Tim Schewe

Drivesmart column: Slowing too soon for the intersection?

I will admit from the start that I am one of those drivers

By Tim Schewe

I’ve been asked to discuss the practice of some drivers who “slow down, way back from a stop light, potentially blocking access for both the left and the right turn lane, especially where there is an advance green light for a left turn.” The person who requested the examination is irked by these drivers as it costs them precious seconds of driving time.

I will admit from the start that I am one of those drivers who watch what is going on around me and anticipate what is going to happen at the intersection. If the light is not green with the traffic moving smoothly in front of me I will gear down or let up on the accelerator and try to change my speed as evenly as possible until we are back to speed and flowing freely again. It is something I’ve watched the truck drivers do over the years and have finally seen the wisdom of.

Driving in this manner reduces the wear and tear on my vehicle. I’m not waiting until the last instant to stand on the brakes and come to a halt increasing the risk of a collision if I misjudge. Neither am I having to always start from a complete stop which contributes to my fuel economy and lowers my carbon footprint.

Lastly, there are no surprises for the drivers around me as they have time to see and adjust to what I am doing.

With this article in mind, I’ve been watching for something specific behind me as I coast up to a red light. Generally, I don’t receive any sign from the driver behind me that they intend to do anything other than follow me up to the intersection. Maybe if they were to give me a clue about what they wanted to do, such as using their signal light, I might choose to temper my speed with their desire.

Yes, I agree, this means that it might take a few seconds longer for other drivers to get to the right or left turn lanes than it would if I was more abrupt.

Oddly enough, I sometimes find myself behind another driver that does this and have to remind myself to take a breath and relax. Since I quit driving an emergency vehicle for a living, I have yet to be in a situation where I couldn’t spare a few extra seconds out of my day to improve safety and save some fuel.

I could not find much information on this topic when I researched it. The articles most closely related to making this decision were mathematical proofs of probability, warnings to slow and shadow the brake as you approach or what to watch for ahead and to the sides at the intersection. Many did not advise looking in the rearview mirror to factor traffic behind you into your choice.

What do you think?

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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