Drivesmart column: Random thoughts while stuck in traffic

Have you ever given any thought to how efficiently traffic lights control the flow of vehicles?

By Tim Schewe

Have you ever given any thought to how efficiently traffic lights control the flow of vehicles? I found out last Friday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. as I traveled the 7.6 kilometers between Superior Road in Lantzville and Northwest Bay Road in Nanoose Bay on Highway 19. Total elapsed time: 40 minutes for a trip Google Maps says should take five minutes.

Power was off due to storm damage and the four way stop procedure was in effect for the dark traffic lights in Nanoose Bay, causing the delay.

I thought that it would be much worse as the tail end of the line was at Ware Road when I drove by it at 4:45. Thank goodness everyone leaving work in Nanaimo didn’t all try to go home at the same time!

Given that this particular traffic signal had not been working since the previous day, drivers were for the most part waiting their turn and being patient in the lineup.

The first thought to run through my head was to wonder why the road maintenance contractor did not have flag people at that intersection for the peak traffic volumes created by to and from work trips. It would have made the 40 minute wait a lot shorter!

It might have something to do with trees down everywhere from the storm and flaggers being busy elsewhere already!

When I learned to drive my dad used to tell me that it cost the same amount to drive with the top half of the gas tank as it does with the bottom half. Good advice for surviving being stuck on the road. My situation wasn’t bad compared to those who were trapped by fallen trees between Port Alberni and Coombs on Highway 4.

Working in northern B.C. also taught me to dress appropriately for the weather. Sure, you could stay warm if you were lightly dressed in the cold, but that only counts if the vehicle keeps running and the heater works. Otherwise, you’ll be glad to have those emergency supplies and warm clothing.

I’m fortunate enough to own a reliable vehicle that I can afford to keep maintained properly. If you are not as fortunate, deciding not to travel could be a wise decision.

Being stuck in the “wilds” of the Regional District of Nanaimo wasn’t a hardship, just an inconvenience. That can change quickly in many other areas of our province, so it is really worth preparing properly and knowing what the roads are like before you go.

Merry Christmas everyone, safe travels!

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

Just Posted

Duncan Lions Club arrange for an electric scooter for man with disability

Board member Lawrence Joe saw a need and filled it

North Cowichan postpones decision on reinstating environmental committee

Issue to be discussed at meeting scheduled for Oct. 21

Isles gather momentum with back-to-back wins

Kerry Park beats Saanich for second victory of VIJHL season

Another lead fades for frustrated LMG

Cowichan’s game management not to blame this time

Duncan mayor takes tour for first-hand look at condition of railway

Island Corridor Foundation taking mayors of railway towns on similar trips

VIDEO: B.C. man’s yard comes alive with grizzlies at night

Malakwa man has captured images of 12 different grizzlies on video

A year after pot legalization in Canada, it’s a slow roll

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

ELECTION 2019: Climate strikes push environment to top of mind for federal leaders

Black Press Media presents a three-part series on three big election issues

Suspect hits woman with pipe, jumps into waiting truck in downtown Nanaimo

Police say victim believes ‘vicious assault’ was an attempted purse-snatching

ICBC willing to loosen grip on driver claim data, David Eby says

Private insurers say claims record monopoly keeps them out

B.C. principal suspended for failing to help student who reported inappropriate touching

Principal didn’t remove student from the teacher’s class nor call the parents within a reasonable time

Port Moody mayor goes back on unpaid leave during sex assault investigation

Rob Vagramov said he intends to return as mayor in three or four weeks

UBC issues statement after instructor tells students to vote for Liberal Party

University says partisan messaging was not intentional

Fatal overdoses down by 33% in B.C., but carfentanil deaths continue to spike

Carfentanil, an illicit drug more powerful than fentanyl, causing more deaths than ever

Most Read