We Teach Driving Like Your Life Depends On It

Always turn on headlights for a safer ride

May 21, 2021

Daytime running lights, mandated as of 1990 for vehicles manufactured and sold in Canada, have contributed to the reduction in the crash rate, Steve Wallace writes. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST


There are all sorts of techniques used by drivers for the purpose of communicating to one another. The most obvious is signaling one’s intention to pull over or change direction. Stopping is coupled with the activation of the brake lights. This alerts traffic behind of an intention to slow or stop. It would be great if pedestrians, and other forms of traffic, could see a blue light placed in the grille of approaching vehicles to let them know an approaching vehicle driver is braking. This additional safety measure was in the planning stages a few years ago. It seems to have been shelved for the time being. Direct eye-to-eye contact and an acknowledgment of one another’s presence is the best recommended behaviour.

Daytime running lights, mandated as of 1990 for vehicles manufactured and sold in Canada, have contributed to the reduction in the crash rate. The U.S. took almost a decade and a half to copy this mandatory practice. Vehicles with daytime running lights are now a small fraction of those on the road. Drivers of these unlit vehicles are encouraged to turn their lights on during all travel. Human behaviour causes drivers to look at light sources and pay less attention to unlit vehicles. The crash rate for unlit vehicles is believed to be greater. Newer vehicles without daytime running lights are generally believed to have been purchased in the U.S. Drivers will deem well-lit vehicles to be closer. This illusion discourages irresponsible passing manoeuvrers on two-lane single direction highways and byways.

The four-way flashers, commonly referred to as emergency lights, are probably the least used communication device, but are a most effective light system. They warn other drivers of a disabled car, a slow-moving vehicle, wildlife and an assortment of other odd circumstances on the road. They can be activated to discourage a tailgater and are a good way of warning others behind of odd delays, such as construction zones. Zoned out drivers on long trips are more susceptible to hitting others from behind. Some professional drivers will put their vehicles in reverse gear when they are the only ones making an unscheduled stop at a construction zone or crash scene. Together with the brake lights, this is a double wake-up call for those inattentive drivers approaching from behind.

With traffic volumes returning to pre-pandemic levels, road rage incidents are on the rise. Here are some guidelines that will help those subjected to this detestable behaviour. Stay in your vehicle. This affords victims of road rage a protected space. Getting out of the vehicle exposes the occupant to all sorts of potential danger. Avoid eye contact. Maintain your cool. Make sure the aggressor knows you have a cellphone, and it is being used to get help. It is a recommendation of police forces everywhere. Do not drive home. You do not want the seemingly ill-intended to know where you live. Go to a public, well-populated place, such as a mall, police station, school, convenience store or any other populated place with security cameras. Some drivers have activated their pulsating car alarms, to draw attention to the threatening behaviour of other travellers.

Personal safety is paramount.

A note to those who are apt to be the repeat aggressors. Take an anger management course. How would you feel about your family members being treated that way? The hotter temperatures are now upon us. Hot tempers are more likely this time of year. Let us all take a deep breathe and act accordingly.

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