Drivesmart column: Beefs and bouquets of the road

There is almost always at least one beef about the way someone has used or misused the road

By Tim Schewe

Twenty years of traffic law enforcement experience has (mis)shaped what I find entertaining, so every Thursday I find myself reading the beefs in the Nanaimo News Bulletin’s Beefs and Bouquets feature. There is almost always at least one beef about the way someone has used or misused the road over the past week.

The beefs often say as much about the complainer as it does about the driver, pedestrian or cyclist being complained about. Here’s a random sample:

“BEEF to whoever put a left turn signal on Hwy. 19 south at Lantzville Road. Before we would wait for the big breaks in northbound traffic and easily turn left, now we watch as the traffic passes and there are no cars approaching, still we wait, then the next batch of traffic approaches and is stopped by the light. Why fix what wasn’t broken?”

Between 2013 and 2017 ICBC reports 12 crashes at this intersection involving the turn lane, six of which produced casualties. The signal was installed at the same time that a new service station was constructed that would significantly change the traffic flows.

Steve Wallace does raise an interesting point about a flashing yellow arrow he saw controlling left turn lanes in Las Vegas. Drivers did not have to sit and watch appropriate gaps in traffic pass by as they waited for a green arrow.

“BEEF To tailgaters. To victims of these irresponsible road bullies, drive safely and ignore them. Worst is that they’ll hit you and face big trouble and an expensive lawsuit.”

No, worst is that they’ll hit you and someone will be hurt or killed. An insurance settlement will not erase the problem completely post-crash either. You should always leave yourself an out to avoid potential problems and this is one of them.

“BEEF To the increasing numbers of cyclists, of all ages, riding on the sidewalks. It is bad enough for pedestrians to safely get across crosswalks and intersections, now we have to dodge cyclists on the sidewalks.”

Ask the cyclist and they’ll tell you they use the sidewalk to avoid being run down by drivers. As this beefer observes, it creates a new risk for the pedestrian. Cyclists are allowed to ride on the sidewalk or in crosswalks when permitted by a sign.

“BEEF To all drivers who still don’t understand school zone speeds of 30 kilometres per hour apply from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on school days. Far too many speeders by Cilaire Elementary and no police to ticket them.”

Does this person know that school zones may start before 8 a.m. or end after 5 p.m.? I often wonder if these zones should apply only during the times that children are actually going to and from the school. Some jurisdictions use flashing lights with school zone signs to do this.

“BEEF To drivers who turn at intersections and believe they have the right to turn into the closest lane or the far lane, whichever lane suits their purpose. Drivers must stay in their own lane and use their indicators once they are in their lane and if clear, can to move over the next lane.”

Yes, drivers actually argue about this. Unless the intersection has more than one turn lane, you must enter the first available lane for your direction of travel.

“BEEF When driving, merge does not mean to bully or nearly cause an accident because you think you are more important than anyone else. You are a menace.”

Merging is a team sport. The onus is on the person changing lanes to do so safely without influencing other traffic, but a driver can also facilitate a safe merge. The driver described here needs a more positive outlook if this was done intentionally.

That said, let’s see if we can find some bouquets instead. Has a driver ever done anything memorable for a good reason for you? Let me know and I’ll post it here.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

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