Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bad Drivers, Good Driver

Good evening Cyberspace! It's a little late in the evening but I've been having the urge to do some writing lately but every time I've sat down to do it something else has consumed my time. Even now, I am putting off making a very late supper and my stomach is literally (yes Debra, literally) grumbling but I'm inspired to write something so it can wait a few minutes while I share some thoughts. 

First of all, if you do not live in the great Halifax Regional Municipality, I urge you to at least come visit us as we really are wonderful people and this is an amazing place with much to offer. Back to the point, if you don't live here, you're probably unaware that we seem to have a problem with driving here; not very much unlike many other cities. Just this year alone we've had several pedestrian/vehicle accidents and while I am not laying blame entirely on drivers for these incidents, I am pointing out that these accidents occurred.

With this in mind, we are currently being bombarded with what is the second large dumping of snow we've had this winter. Needless to say we've got a few inches down out there and road conditions are less than ideal and visibility at times was terrible. Yet despite all of these things it appears as though some drivers could not even take the simplest of cares while driving their vehicles on the roads tonight.

While waiting for some very late buses to get home, on a small side street, I bore witness to some of the worst and grotesque displays of driver caution that I've seen in a long time. Three such drivers, who might as well have received their licenses from a Cracker Jack box, felt the undying need to tempt fate by travelling well in excess of 60km/hr (~37mph for my non-metric readers) on roads with 4+ inches of snow; they had yet to be plowed after several hours of snowing.

The next two drivers, as well as one of the role models already mentioned, thought it fit to drive on these very same roads with but one hand on the wheel. I'm no driver instructor however I do know that you can control a vehicle a lot more safely with both hands on the wheel; doubly so in bad weather. Meanwhile, somewhere in between all of this, a driver opted to step on the gas while a transit bus was trying to pull out despite still being a full car length behind the bus.

Which leads us to tonight's scariest driver who should be forced to be on Canada's Worst Driver immediately and upon graduation be forced to have a GPS device installed to allow other drivers to know she is on the road. I'm not being sexist here either, it really was a she (the others were a mix of male and female drivers; young and old) and her driving almost compelled me to run down the road to take her license plate number and call her in.

She came down the road with her right turn signal on driving a modest 30km/hr or so and my first thought was that this was finally a safe driver...She stopped about 100m up from the bus stop and so I figured she was (though I didn't know it was a she yet) at her home or whatever. Well, she pulled out again and started cruising down the street, accelerating to just below the speed limit; turn signal still blinking. As she drives by and I look in, I cringe as I see this woman with her phone in her hand, to her ear, one hand loosely flopped atop her steering wheel, head turned to the right, eyes away from the oncoming vehicles and the parked bus. 

I'm just dumbfounded at the level of ignorance here. The danger this woman created for herself and anyone that happened to be near is absolutely ridiculous. BUT! there is a silver lining here and now that I've sufficiently vented my disgust on the matter, I want to share some hope. 

I don't know who is driving the Tiger Patrol mini van tonight (16/Jan/2013, ~8:25pm on South Street near Robie Street) or what the Tiger Patrol is but whoever it is should be given a Driving Safety Medal of some sorts. If one doesn't exist, we need to make one and give it to this person. They are a shining example of smart driving. As they were coming down the street towards a high volume four way intersection with lights, they had a green light facing them.

I happened to be outside smoking at the time, watching traffic (the arrogance of human ignorance amazes me at times) at the intersection when the van drove by. I happened to also be watching the little countdown to the yellow light; it was at two when a car turned right on a red. It was a different red light that caught my attention however, that of the Tiger Patrol applying their breaks and slowing down then coming to a smooth stop at where the white stop line would be underneath the snow as the green light switched over to the yellow. When most drivers I've seen would step on the gas and race the light (regardless of weather), this individual chose the safer, smarter route.

This amazing driver is either getting undeserved praise or their due. To have the awareness and attention to gauge the stopping distance, note the incoming light change in two seconds and properly come to a safe stop is incredible. No skidding, no sliding and no abrupt slamming of the breaks. Just a damn fine driver paying attention to what's going on. Kudos to you. I know that I feel a lot safer, despite the bad drivers out there, knowing you are out there on the road!

Thanks for taking the time to read. I'm sorry if you feel I was too harsh with my commentary but I have made the very arrogant and ignorant mistake of being a bad driver. I was fortunate enough that the only one involved was myself but this is most often not the case. Please, slow down out there; for yourself, for other drivers and for pedestrians (and pedestrians, don't forget how bad the roads are, you have the added responsibility of knowing that vehicles behave differently in this sort of weather; don't bolt out; wait for lights; wait for vehicles to come to complete stops as this may be much harder on ice). Let's all get home safely; I'm sure that each one of us has family that would miss us dearly.

Love each other; love yourself; and smile.