Ten resolutions for better driving in 2014
By Steve Wallace, Times Colonist, December 11th , 2013
New Year’s resolutions are popular at this time of year.
Here are the most common frustrations experienced over the last calendar year by readers of this column, in resolution form:
1. All drivers should resolve to signal every intention to alter the direction of their vehicle. It is important to signal every time; in a driveway, mall, parkade and any other situation of direction change, whether legally required or not. It is habit-forming behaviour. Turns, lane changes, merging and pulling in and out of traffic from a parking space should be preceded by a timely signal. All other motorists, pedestrians, cyclists and even scooter owners will appreciate the warning of a signal.
2. Drivers should resolve to enter the centre of an intersection when yielding to oncoming traffic while setting up a left turn. They should never turn the wheels left in anticipation of the turn, for fear of being hit from behind and being pushed into the very oncoming traffic to which they are yielding.
3. Resolve to use the vehicle horn to communicate, not criticize. All too often in North American culture, the horn is blasted loudly and meant to punish rather than warn of impending danger. Warn others with a single tap of the horn when moving forward, or double tap when reversing from a parking space. Three short taps is fast becoming a way of alerting other motorists of a texting, drunk or otherwise dangerous driver in the immediate area.
4. Drivers should resolve to travel in the right lane of a multi-lane highway and leave the left lane for those who wish to pass. Slow traffic in the passing lane fouls up any traffic system. The right lane is a better position to be in when taking evasive action in a potential crash situation.
5. Resolve to use both headlights and taillights when driving any vehicle, to reduce the chance of a crash. It will draw the attention of other drivers to your vehicle. Drivers who operate vehicles without headlights and taillights have a high crash rate. Drivers with older or imported vehicles should resolve to manually illuminate every trip.
6. Resolving to do a sharp turn, rather than a lazy left or right, into the far lane of a multi-lane road would ease the frustration and angst of other drivers at intersections. Turning from the immediate lane to the immediate lane is the law.
7. Resolve never to text or talk while driving. Texting has marginally surpassed driving drunk as the most common cause of death and serious injury behind the wheel. There is no discernible difference in the crash rate of a driver illegally using a handheld or legally using a hands-free cellphone. Let’s all concentrate on driving and use the phone when parked.
8. Resolve not to drink and drive, period! Make a choice. Take a stand.
9. Resolve to have non-driving pedestrians follow the experienced, licensed driver’s example. Drivers make good pedestrians. They understand the characteristics and performance of a vehicle. Let’s have drivers, when walking as pedestrians, announce their intention to cross the road by raising an arm and pointing in the intended path of travel.
10. Resolve to give and you will receive satisfaction in doing so! It is the season of giving. Give the right-of-way, don’t take it. Give space when passing or being passed. Give enough time to get from A to B. Give people rides and make carpooling cool again. Give the other driver the benefit of the doubt. Give the police, ambulances, fire trucks, tow trucks, taxis, buses, pedi-cabs, horse-drawn carriages, scooters, skaters and pedestrians a “brake.”
Steve Wallace is the owner of Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island and in the Central Interior of B.C. He is a former Western Canadian vice-president of the Driving Schools Association of the Americas, a registered B.C. teacher and a graduate of the University of Manitoba.
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