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Behind-the-Wheel

Stuck-in-traffic thoughts

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

I found out last Friday at 5:30 p.m. as I travelled the 7.6 kilometres 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.

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.

My first thought 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!

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/miscellaneous/random-thoughts-while-stuck-traffic

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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



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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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