Driving should involve cooperation, not a contest.
There is no doubt that my point of view has been influenced by four decades of driving experience, 25 years of collision investigation and daily observation of what goes on around me when I drive.
Yes, I am one of “those drivers.” I use the right hand lane, do my best to follow the speed limit and feel like a rock in the stream. I have come to expect to see constant examples of sloppy, selfish driving and am pleasantly surprised when I see someone extend courtesy.
It should be the opposite.
Yes, I make mistakes when I drive. We all do, that’s part of being human. What I object to is driving behaviour that says “I’m important, you aren’t. I’m in a hurry, get out of my way!”
I also shake my head at drivers who don’t signal, can’t stay between the lines on the roadway, fail to practise safe space margins, won’t wait their turn or choose not to practise any of the other rules of the road. These are not mistakes, but are deliberate decisions that reduce everyone’s opportunity to avoid or mitigate the driving errors that inevitably happen.
What kind of messages are we receiving to change the attitude of drivers? Stay out of the left lane so that drivers who want to exceed the speed limit are not inconvenienced. No to automated speed enforcement! When was the last time that you saw flashing red and blue lights at the roadside to indicate that the road rules were being enforced?
Yes, there are plenty of ad campaigns against various bad behaviours, but I think that they are largely ignored or are considered to only apply to other drivers.
Better road design does play a part in the solution. However, we cannot expect the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to create the equivalent of a cattle chute that removes any opportunity to make a decision and provides an impenetrable barrier to keep us from crashing into each other. We have to accept the responsibility to make the choices that put other road users first and think a bit beyond our bumpers. Ultimately, when everyone does this, it will result in a safer driving environment that gets us all to where we are going safely and efficiently.
Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. To comment or learn more, please visit drivesmartbc.ca.