Drivesmart column: Driving questions and the wisdom of Google

I took the idea one step further and searched on “drivers should.”

By Tim Schewe

I just finished reading an article titled “Old People Should…” in the May 2019 edition of the Reader’s Digest. It explained that we could find out what people ask Google most often by seeing how the search engine auto filled our queries. The top result for “old people should” was that they should not drive.

I took the idea one step further and searched on “drivers should.”

The top auto fill was “drivers should be aware that a motorcyclist may…” Doing the search produced articles about sharing the road with motorcycles. The main ideas contained in the first page of search results is that drivers may not see motorcycles, that more following distance is required and that drivers are responsible more often for crashes involving four wheeled vehicles and motorcycles.

Second place belonged to “drivers should monitor their level of…” The result here concerned driver fatigue. I expected that commercial drivers would figure prominently here but the advice applied to drivers of all ages.

The next one surprised me, “drivers should watch for individuals who are blind at…” Suggestions here were mixed and ranged from blind spots to guides for drivers of people with impaired vision.

This made me more curious, so the obvious next search was “motorcyclists should.”

“Motorcyclists should wear bright clothing mainly because…” doing this reduces the rider’s chances of being involved in a crash.

Choosing and riding in the proper lane position is important. “Motorcyclists should be aware of safe lane…” also found information on lane splitting/filtering and advice from TranBC.

Finally, “motorcyclists should make every effort to…” returned to the subject of being visible.

It appears that the world has trouble sharing the road with cyclists. The two most popular auto completes are “cyclists should not be allowed on the road…” Apparently we still live in a driver-centric world and there are a lot of attitudes that need changing.

If we are going to share, then “cyclists should pay road tax…” These links all appear to point to the UK.

“Cyclists should have a licence to ride on the road…” I cannot see our provincial government or ICBC taking this one on!

We’re now left with exploring the most popular searches about “pedestrians should.”

First up is the advice that “pedestrians should only cross at an intersection when…” As you might guess, this reminds pedestrians that they must follow the signals that apply to them.

“Pedestrians should walk…” teaches everyone that using the sidewalk is safest and if a sidewalk is not available it is best to walk on the side of the road facing traffic.

Here in B.C. our Motor Vehicle Act places an onus on drivers not to collide with pedestrians. “Pedestrians should be given the right of way…” completes the top three search results.

So, there you have it, the wisdom of Google as it relates to what we are curious about in relation to road safety right now.

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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