Setting a bad example

It's not nice to take vicarious pleasure from the troubles of other drivers, but sometimes I can't help myself.

Yesterday, I found myself No. 3 in line waiting for a red light at an intersection. The vehicle in front of me was a shiny Porsche Boxster convertible driven by a mature male. 

The light turned green and he stalled it. By the time he had started it again, the light had turned red and we all ended up waiting for the next cycle. 

Most of us have probably done the same thing as some time in our motoring career and I kept my smile to myself lest I tempt Murphy and end up being an example.

The performance that came after the stall once my attention was focused on him was remarkable.

After the restart, he moved the front of his vehicle to the far side of the crosswalk to await the next green light.

This is bad form for two reasons:

  • it can put his vehicle past the inductive pickup controlling the signal
  • it makes life difficult for pedestrians

In this case, I drove over the loop and there were no pedestrians. Problem solved.

A long tractor-trailer combination was in the intersection waiting patiently to turn left ahead of us. The driver was unable to proceed until the signal turned green for us.

He began his turn and Mr. Boxster just could not wait. He looped out to the right and drove around the back of the trailer to make his left turn rather than wait.

Believe it or not, he could have been written a ticket for green light at intersection for this behaviour.

My final observation of this driver was his dust as he rapidly disappeared from view while I trailed along behind having waited for the truck to turn and followed the posted speed limit.

The only challenge to this performance was a driver who decided to stop for a hitch hiker. The stop was a sudden one, made at 45 degrees across an acceleration lane about half way along its length.

Fortunately, no one was following this driver too closely. Now, the acceleration lane was blocked while everyone loaded luggage and passenger.

This should not have happened for more than one reason. This section of highway is a freeway (schedule 1 highway) and stopping to pick up hitch hikers is illegal. It is also forbidden to be a pedestrian here unless you are attending to a broken down vehicle.

Are you surprised that our vehicle insurance rates are as high as they are?

Story URL: http://www.drivesmartbc.ca/behaviour/setting-bad-example-others


I'll Meet You in the Middle

Driving behaviour is a never-ending curiosity for me, so when I heard a conversation about the intersection of Haslam and Adshead roads south of Nanaimo, I had to take a look.

The gist of the story was that most drivers seemed to treat this Y shaped intersection as being uncontrolled and zoomed through it as if the rest of the world was going to stop for them.

The sentiment was expressed that it is only a matter of time before a serious crash occurred there.

A search of ICBC's crash maps revealed that there was only one reported collision in the intersection from 2011-15 and it was classed as being property damage only.

According to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, this occurred on Feb.18, 2015 and the story's photo showed two mini vans, both of whose drivers had just passed yield signs, sitting corner to corner in the middle.

There does not appear to be a vision problem at work here. Both drivers had a reasonable opportunity to see each other as they approached the intersection although there is some vegetation in the way as one might expect in a rural area.

The yield signs are visible and the posted speed limit is 50 km/h.

My limited experience with driving here suggests that few road users respect the limit.

I can understand why this low volume intersection is controlled by yield signs. Stop signs would be treated as a yield by many drivers.

Both the collision frequency and the possible need to stop for other traffic here is minimal.

Perhaps this collision has it's roots in how some drivers tend to treat yield signs. Rather than see it as a potential stop, they see it as an invitation not to.

Our Learn to Drive Smart guide says only a little about yield signs:

A yield sign means that you must let the traffic on the through road have the right‑of‑way. You may enter the intersection without stopping if there are no pedestrians, cyclists or vehicles on the through road. But you must slow down (and stop if necessary) and wait for a safe gap if there is traffic on the through road.

The Tuning Up For Drivers does go further. It instructs a driver facing a yield sign to:

  • Slow down
  • Check for traffic
  • If necessary, stop
  • Wait for a long, safe break in traffic
  • Turn into the nearest lane
  • Look ahead and adjust your speed

Although the cost of construction would have been higher, this intersection is a good candidate for a roundabout or traffic circle.

It forces drivers to slow, gives more time to check for traffic and facilitates stopping. If a stop is not needed, everyone may keep moving on to their destination safely.

Story URL: http://www.drivesmartbc.ca/collisions/ill-meet-you-middle

The 300 not saved

Some People Still Don't Wear Their Seatbelt

I've gone from a child who rode on a foam mattress in the back of our family station wagon on summer road trips to a grandfather who would not dream of driving anywhere without grand-daughters safely buckled up in proper child restraints.

Wearing my own seatbelt has become a reflex action. I'm uncomfortable if I don't wear it and don't notice it when I do.

That said, it is still not uncommon to find people who are unbelted, even though B.C. has had mandatory seatbelt use rules since October 1977.

Transport Canada reports that B.C. met its Road Safety Vision 2010 target of 95 per cent compliance along with Quebec, Ontario and Saskatchewan.

Citing Canada as a whole, 36 per cent of fatally injured drivers and 38 per cent of fatally injured passengers were not wearing their belts at the time of the collision.

It is estimated that about 300 lives could be saved every year if everyone wore belts.

I wonder if some people cannot conceive of the tremendous forces that a person is subjected to during a collision. Occupant restraints are designed to help you ride them out safely.

We may think of seatbelts as being inflexible, yet even when properly fastened, it could stretch enough during a collision to allow you to hit anything within 25 centimetres. Stretching is necessary to dissipate energy and that is evident during post-crash examination.

I used to look for plastic smears on the belt surface from the D ring on the pillar by the wearer's shoulder. Enough heat built up between the belt and the ring that plastic on the ring surface melted onto the belt.

If the plastic did not smear, the belt often left a fabric pattern imprint in it.

When the D ring was not plastic coated, a shiny line across the seat belt fabric could often be found.

I'm certain that in one collision I investigated, the unbelted rear seat passenger was thrown forward with such force that he tore the front passenger seat mounting bolts out of the floor.

It is also possible that this contributed to the death of the person who was in that front seat at the time.

Most vehicles on the roads these days contain at least one airbag. The airbag is designed to protect you in a collision in conjunction with the seatbelt being properly worn.

If you do not wear your seatbelt properly, the deployment of the airbag during a crash could cause serious injury or death instead of protecting you.

I cannot stress enough the importance of reading and understanding the section on occupant restraints in your vehicle's owner's manual!

Another quirk I often notice is drivers who put their seatbelt on after they have started to drive or while they are pulling up to reverse and park.

The time to deal with your seatbelt is before you move your vehicle or while your vehicle is stopped during the interval between driving forward and backing up.

To do otherwise is a distraction and can interfere with your control over the vehicle.

Story URL: http://www.drivesmartbc.ca/behaviour/some-people-still-dont-wear-their-seatbelt

Go first, think second

I've started to take my own advice and back into parking stalls more often.

There have been some unique experiences, mostly pedestrians that blithely march past the back of my vehicle ignoring the signal and backup lights, but there are drivers who want to go first and think second.

Unfortunately, I'm going to have to include myself in that category this time around.

My most recent experience involved a parking lot where the entry curves to the right and on a grade.

I pulled up far enough to line up on a parking stall on the driver's side while signalling my intent to move left.

I put the car in reverse and watched as another driver pulled up behind me and stopped. He was so close that I did not think that I could safely reverse without running into his vehicle.

Why couldn't he have stopped just a bit further back I thought to myself. If he had been thinking ahead I could just back out of his way and be done with it.

I waited for the driver to go around me and he waited for me to get out of his way.

After a few moments of consideration on both our parts he started to honk his horn, but I continued to wait.

Finally, he had enough and passed me over the single solid yellow line that separated the lanes in the parking lot.

Hmmm....single solid yellow line. You must always stay to the right of these lines unless you are passing an overtaken vehicle or avoiding an obstruction.

That rule does have an exception for those who are entering or leaving the highway.

The trouble here being that I wasn't leaving the highway. The entire parking lot is the highway.

If I wanted to use that parking spot I had selected on my left I needed to have my vehicle pointed in the opposite direction and be driving on the other side of that yellow line.

Sorry, I obviously wasn't thinking! From now on I will use the next entrance that will allow me to be properly positioned before I park.

Story URL: http://www.drivesmartbc.ca/backing/go-first-think-second

More Behind the Wheel articles

About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories