Signal, stop and shoulder check in 2017
By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, December 30 2017
Now is the time for New Year’s driving resolutions. Resolve to signal every intention behind the wheel.
Other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians are not mind readers.
They would all appreciate an advanced indication of what a driver intends to do next.
Signalling to enter or leave a parking space is very important.
More mishaps happen on parking lots than anywhere else in out traffic system.
Nowadays the slightest contact between vehicles seems to cost thousands of dollars to fix.
The majority of crashes happen closer to home, work or those immediate destinations most frequented.
Signalling to leave the curb lets others know you wish to get into traffic.
They might want your parking space and will be more than willing to create a space for you.
The same goes for high-speed freeway travel.
Signalling early allows accompanying traffic to make way.
Most vehicle signals do not cancel automatically when drivers are changing lanes.
It is frustrating to have to follow a driver who has forgotten to cancel the signal after a lane change.
It can be a recipe for disaster, given that others will think there is an imminent turn to be made.
Flashing the high-beam lights is a good way to alert drivers to this common lapse of concentration.
Signals are meant to draw attention to the vehicle. Pedestrians appreciate the gesture.
Drivers should try to get eye-to-eye contact with all other modes of transportation, especially at intersections.
Earbuds, cellphones and simple conversation can distract pedestrians.
A horn tap together with a signal will often be enough to get the attention of a dozy, less-than-engaged walker.
Stopping completely at a stop sign seems to be a lost art.
Drivers are required to do so, but where they are supposed to stop is also a mystery to most.
Prior to the natural path of the pedestrians is the proper place to stop at an intersection.
It might be before the crosswalk line or an imaginary extension of the sidewalk across the driver’s path.
It could be the edge of a road where no sidewalk or crosswalk exists.
The stop sign only tells a driver what to do, not where to do it.
Stopping prior to making a legal right turn on a solid red traffic light gives a driver ample time to check vehicular traffic on the left and look for pedestrians coming from the right side.
Resolving to stop completely allows drivers more time to check all conditions at the intersection.
Shoulder checks prior to turns and lane changes are more important now than ever.
It is important for every driver to look over the appropriate shoulder in the direction of travel, before turning or changing lanes, in order to avoid a collision with a bike, scooter, skateboarder or even a jogger.
Drivers and their passengers have seatbelts, airbags and thousands of pounds of vehicle protecting them wherever they go.
Looking out for those who do not have the same protection is important.
Kids have a tendency to dart from place to place. Cyclists are not all responsible riders.
Pedestrians are not always paying attention.
Vehicle drivers, rightly or wrongly, are the only licensed drivers on the road.
Until non-motorized modes of travel require the same licensing, which isn’t going to happen any time soon, drivers are the real solution to crash reduction on our roads.
Proper signalling, stopping and shoulder checks are three good starting points to safer driving.
If you doubt how sloppy drivers have become, try this!
Go to any four-way stop, stand well back of the intersection, and count how many vehicles come to a complete stop, unobstructed by others or when alone at the intersection.
The results will surprise and possibly offend you.
My count was one in 20.