Psychology of speeding

This must be speed week as I have heard from two drivers who are having difficulty following the speed limits and one who knew that he was speeding and wanted advice to plan his ticket dispute. The three situations give some insight into how the pressures of everyday driving encourage us to disobey.

Of the two who want to follow the speed limit, one is a commercial driver whose boss is directing him to speed. The other feels that if he doesn't speed in his daily commute he's going to be driven over by others that do.

Here are their stories:

What is the purpose of a speed limit? I am asking because I recently began a new career driving semi truck long haul and I am not sure if speed limits are for safety. I say that because not many people actually do the speed limit and I am getting tired of being in trouble with my boss when I don't speed, for example doing 110 km/h in a 100 zone.

I have many reasons for driving slower then posted speed: A heavy commercial vehicle traveling downgrade, Approaching and passing a temporary hazard, Driving at night, Poor weather conditions, Following an erratic driver or poor road conditions.

I value my driver's licence because it cost me a lot of money to earn.

I would like to have a reasonable response next time my boss gets mad when I am doing 105 km/h in a 110 zone because he does not accept any of the reasons I have given here. I have tried using then as an answer when he wants me to drive faster and I want to drive a little slower.

My goal is to arrive at my destination alive and to drive safely.

The second situation:

I travel through a school zone on Hammond Bay Road in Nanaimo each day before 5 p.m. Nobody slows down.

Last week a pickup truck roared by me at about 80 km/h in that school zone.

I really want to slow down and obey the law, but even if I'm traveling 45 in a 30 zone, the drivers behind me get all antsy. I'm not suggesting I would get a ticket for driving safely in a school zone, but what if I get ticketed for speeding?

If I obey the zone, I impede traffic, if I go with the flow, I'm speeding. Seems to be a lose-lose situation.

The driver planning his dispute raised many of the points that I used to hear regularly at the roadside: I'm late and I have to pick up my family at the airport. It was down hill. I'm sorry. It's a regular speed trap. I've only received one other ticket in my life. I always follow the rules. I'd pay the ticket if I didn't get the points.

I'll add one of my favourites: I set my cruise control for 10 over because the cops never write tickets for that.

Even our provincial government delivers mixed messages by strengthening the "even if you are doing the speed limit, get out of the left lane" rules.

For our truck driver, the situation that he finds himself in may be bullying in the workplace. WorksafeBC has a resource kit for that and it would be worthwhile for both him and the supervisor to do some reading. Careful documentation of each instance may be required to defend your position if you follow the speed laws and the company fires you because of it.

For our driver in the school zone, you control your speed, not the other driver. Travel through the zone at the appropriate speed and ignore them, unless doing so becomes dangerous. Then you can choose to pull over, stop and let them find someone else to endanger. Take the time to report them to police.

For our ticket disputant, well, good luck. You made the choice to speed and now you've been given the opportunity to pay the price. There's lots of information here on this site to help you decide what to do, just use search. This is the most commonly disputed offence in traffic court and one that is difficult to beat.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/speed/psychology-speeding


Do you impede traffic?

Settling a debate about impeding traffic

I've probably said this before, but when I applied the same tolerance under the speed limit as I did for those driving over the speed limit and factored in the advisory signs for speed, I seldom found a driver going slower.

Having sat and considered for a minute, I cannot recall writing a ticket for slow driving during my traffic-enforcement career.

I do remember stopping the odd driver and suggested that if they felt it necessary to drive at a slower speed and they started leading a parade, they should pull over, stop and let everyone go by.

That courtesy might also be a lifesaver as the probability of an unsafe pass by an impatient follower can be quite high.

B.C.'s slow-driving law forbids driving at a speed that impedes the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, unless a reduced speed is necessary for safety.

What is reasonable?

Ultimately that would be decided by the justice in traffic court, but I can think of many reasons for driving at reduced speed:

  • A learner driver who is not yet confident in the situation
  • A heavy commercial vehicle travelling downgrade
  • Approaching and passing a temporary hazard
  • Driving at night
  • Poor weather conditions
  • Following an erratic driver

Now, we have to consider the variability of that decision. What I consider reasonable might differ from you, also for many reasons. It's not as simple as speeding where merely driving at a speed over the limit is an offence.

An interesting aside here is the Japanese koreisha mark that is displayed by senior drivers.

It is optional at age 70 and mandatory for those 75 and older to indicate that their age could affect their ability to drive.

I wonder if respect for seniors translates to some accommodation being granted to these people?

When there are multiple lanes of travel, slower drivers must use the right hand lanes, even if they are traveling at the speed limit.

Here's a situation where honking at another driver is part of the law.

Except when passing on the right is permitted, if an overtaking driver sounds their horn, you are required to give way to the right and allow them to pass.

What we've discussed so far applies to all highways whether they have single or multiple lanes for a direction of travel.

B.C.'s current law requires slower drivers to move out of the left lane when overtaken by faster traffic. This applies even when the slower driver is traveling at the speed limit.

That said, slower drivers are NOT totally banned from the left lanes. They may use them at lower speeds if they are:

  • Passing someone else in the right lane
  • Allowing someone to merge onto the highway
  • Preparing to turn left
  • Following the requirements of the Slow Down, Move Over rules

So, to the gentleman who asked me to settle a debate over whether a driver could receive a ticket for impeding traffic even if they were going the speed limit on a single lane highway, I would have to answer that it would be very unlikely, but possible if they failed to give way when honked at.

That happens fewer than 80 times a year in our province.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/speed/settling-debate-about-impeding-traffic

Watch for no zones

One of the critical concepts I learned as a collision investigator was that fully loaded heavy trucks have
50-60% of the braking capability of light vehicles.

This assumes that the braking system is not overheated, has been maintained properly and is correctly adjusted.

Air-brake systems also suffer from brake lag, a short period that occurs between the driver stepping on the brake pedal and the brakes starting to apply.

These two thoughts ran through my mind when I read a Facebook post from a commercial driver.

He had used a frame from his dash-cam that showed proper following distance between his front bumper and the back bumper of the pickup truck ahead of him.

He had drawn a pink rectangle in this space and advised that he needed every inch of it to stop if something happened to require it.

If that space wasn't there, whatever was inside it was going to be crushed. Think carefully about that for a moment.

We've all been taught to leave at least a two-second following distance between us and the vehicle ahead of us when conditions are good.

When they are not, we need to leave more space, perhaps adding another second for each factor that departs from the ideal.

Remember that 50-60% braking comparison? This means that heavy commercial drivers actually need to follow a four-second rule. So do the drivers in front of them.

We should also have been taught that we don't complete our pass or change lanes unless we can see all of the front of the vehicle behind us in our inside rear view mirror.

This may not be enough space when a heavy commercial vehicle is behind you. In fact, if you are too close to the front of a heavy truck, you could become invisible to its driver.

The area in front of a commercial vehicle is not the only place that a light vehicle driver needs to worry about. There are a number of other "No Zones" beside and to the rear.

Ignoring them could involve you in a squeeze play as this driver in Port Alberni found out.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/commercial-vehicles/thinking-ahead-big-trucks

Beefs, but no bouquets

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.

  • 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 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 beef-er 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?

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.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/miscellaneous/beefs-and-bouquets

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.

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

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