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Virus brings ‘new normal’ to our roads

Who thought that walking into a bank, while wearing a mask, would be acceptable behaviour? It is now the new normal. Coronavirus has turned our world upside down. The lineup at the drive-through teller is longer than inside the bank. People are carrying their own sanitizer, to be used at the bank machine and many other retail outlets.

Riding a motorcycle, after the winter season has subsided, was something to be expected. Nowadays, it has become interpreted as an accepted social distancing exercise. Single riders are the norm, a passenger the exception.

Vehicles are now, more than ever, operated by a single-driver occupant. There is a good chance that the more scarcely used HOV lanes might become the most populated.

There seems to be no need for the guidance of a rush-hour traffic report. Vehicle distancing is no problem in today’s commuter coronavirus reality. Why send a traffic reporter up in a helicopter day after day, only to report on the unobstructed and sparse traffic flow?

Who knew that having a drive-through window at a fast-food outlet would keep a business operating, even during a pandemic? This window is now the only option in some locations. Customers feel much safer in their own vehicles.

The public is now doing what many in the publictransportation industry have been doing all along. Disinfecting, before and after use, has been common practice for professional drivers. It is now being done by the public, when getting a vehicle serviced or filling up at the local gas station.

Bus drivers have always been very aware of various virus threats. They take obvious precautions. The situation has become more dangerous amid our present circumstance. Protective and transparent barriers are now being installed. At present, fares have been forgiven and seat distancing is the new norm. Using the rear door to enter seems odd and different. It is the new norm.

Police are surprised by the greater number of excessive speeding tickets being issued. The unobstructed road straightaways seem to be too much of a temptation for some high-powered vehicle drivers. The fines for excessive speeding are very dramatic, not to mention the increased penalty-point accumulation. Losing one’s privilege to drive can have employment repercussions. At this time of predicted and unprecedented unemployment projections, a driving licence is often a path to getting a job.

The crash rate and fatality rate are down dramatically. ICBC might well have caught a break in attempting to accelerate the elimination of its financial deficit position, commonly referred to as a dumpster fire. Conversely, many unemployed drivers are switching their vehicle use from business to pleasure, resulting in a financial savings over the term of non-business use.

Motor-vehicle driving tests have been cancelled. Driving lessons are also on the chopping block. Any activity that cannot guarantee social distancing is no longer deemed viable. What is new normal? Will the student and instructor/examiner being masked appropriately, and the vehicle being disinfected, satisfy the licensing authority? Will motorcycle testing be the first to return, given the distancing reality?

ICBC has forgiven the written-test fee requirement for those learners whose driving licences expire before road tests resume. Subsequent theory test fees, if a failure occurs on the first test, will not be forgiven. All drivers, seniors included, who have had practical driving tests cancelled, are asked to wait for further instructions.

Tony read last week’s column and had a question. He wanted to know how much it cost for a battery replacement for my 2005 Prius.

New replacement runs about $3,500, rebuilt $1,500. The estimated $12,000 savings in gas cost over the term of use did soften the financial blow. Don’t let a hybrid sit for an extended time.





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