Nobody’s a perfect driver, including me
By Steve Wallace, Times Colonist, June 27th 2014
Nobody is a perfect driver, including me. Here are three of my driving indiscretions that occurred in the past few years of driving Vancouver Island roads.
I had parked on a busy street in the Cook Street Village area. After doing a 360-degree and a left shoulder check, I was about to leave the curb. As I glanced in my side-view mirror, there appeared to be a bike rider approaching behind. He looked like he was going very slowly, so I pulled away from the curb and entered the single travel lane. As I checked the rear view mirror upon entering the driving lane, lo and behold, the bike rider was right behind my car. To make matters worse, it was one of my master-swim-team mates. Given how close he was to my rear bumper, I had to have cut him off, or come very close to it.
At the next swim team workout, he asked me if I had seen him. I replied that I had indeed seen him approaching and asked sheepishly: “How close was it?” He said it wasn’t dangerously close, but he did have to slow down to avoid a conflict. I was somewhat relieved but very intrigued by how a professional driver, namely me, could have misjudged his speed. Rod (his real name) said he was going very fast. He was in high gear and his legs were moving at a perceived slow rotation. It was common for vehicle drivers to misjudge his speed, particularly when he is riding alone. It seldom happens to him when riders are in a group outing. I apologized for any fright he may have felt, and he shrugged it off as just another day of “rigorous riding.”
Another problem happened when I was turning left from a T-intersection. Another instructor was with me. We were ride-checking one another, making sure the instruction for our students was consistent. As I was turning left, after having stopped at the intersection, the instructor beside me said “Stop!” I heard another voice yell “Idiot!”
A guy on a bike had been obscured by the very wide window pillars of the hybrid driving-school car. This particular vehicle has two powerplants, one electric motor and one gasoline engine. The batteries under the back seat are extremely heavy, which is why the structural parts of the vehicle are made stronger and bigger than a single-engine vehicle of the same size. The curved road angle at which the bike rider had approached was perfectly obscured by the corner posts. There was not a close call, but nevertheless the responsibility to properly check was mine. We went back to the exact spot and got a real appreciation for the “bob and weave” technique of checking non-traditional grid-type intersections.
Here’s another. It was a dark and rainy night. I was in an unfamiliar part of town, looking for an obscure address. As I circled the block, a strange and uncomfortable feeling possessed me. All the parked cars were facing me. There were two possibilities. The whole right side of the street was occupied by people parking illegally or, as ill luck would have it, I was on a one-way street going the wrong way. Sadly, the latter was true.
We all make driving mistakes. A rather wise driving instructor named Byron Britton, who owned North Shore Driving School, once told me: “It is not the driving errors that define you. What matters more is how you correct them.”
Steve Wallace is the owner of Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island and the Interior. He is a former vice-president of the Driving Schools Association of the Americas, a registered B.C. teacher and a University of Manitoba graduate.
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