Why Should I Behave When I Use the Highway?

Doesn't Play Well With OthersThe theme last week among those that I follow on Twitter seemed to be "doesn't play well with others." Whether the subject of the Tweet was a driver, cyclist or pedestrian the behavior highlighted was either thoughtless or selfish. Add an over the top example that I witnessed on Saturday and I wonder why should I behave when I use the highway?

The example that I'm speaking of involved an expensive, shiny black Mercedes sports car southbound on Highway 19 entering Nanaimo. (If you are interested, the B.C. license number of that vehicle was FV007J.) Not content with being at or just over the speed limit, this driver threaded the gap between me and the vehicle slightly ahead and to my right to change from the outside to the inside lane leaving about an arm's length on either side of their vehicle.

The driver was paying attention and anticipated the red light at the intersection ahead by moving completely to the right turn lane and then hooking left around the turn lane barriers back onto the highway.

Where's a traffic cop when you need one? It's at times like this that I really miss my ticket book.

As you might have guessed, I tend to follow the traffic rules and don't like it when others do not. No doubt this is partly my personality and partly a learned attitude. If I was going to ticket drivers who didn't follow the rules, I had better set the example by following them myself. That habit has stuck with me.

I also know that blindly following the traffic rules at all times will not guarantee that I will never be involved in a collision. The same applies to all other road users because despite our best efforts, humans make mistakes.

Following the rules does make us predictable though. If we know what to expect, we can co-operate to minimize the chance of crashing into each other.

It can be difficult to resist those little temptations, driving at 10 over the limit, sliding through the stop sign because we don't see other traffic close by, ignoring the solid lines because we didn't anticipate our path soon enough and more. The trouble with giving in is that these temptations may become the default setting. Routinely cutting the corners could easily become a disasterous habit.

Thankfully, our Mercedes driver is still an exception although reports of this type of behaviour in the media is becoming more common.

Traffic rules are like the Prisoner's Dilemma. If everyone cooperates and follows the rules, then everyone "loses" the same amount, but the total loss is minimized. The traffic moves smoothly and there are fewer collisions. However if a person defects, he gains a lot more, but there is a chance that the total loss in the system is high. You might be able to cut in line, but there is chance that you will have a crash. However, if everyone defects, everyone loses, because there are such a high chance of crashes occuring.

I'm willing to follow the rules because I don't count doing this as a loss. I see it as being socially responsible and an acceptable cost that will ultimately produce dividends. Do you?

Comments

Submitted by E-Mail

Hi, I know that following, by educating, enforcing”critical rules” reduces injuries the workplace and would do the same on the highways. If only our politicians would dedicate resources to a target excessive speeders,impaired and distracted drivers,our roads would be safer for all. We live in a “me first” society and no politician wants to put his or her job at risk.

Submitted by E-Mail

One of my pet peeves is when I approach an intersection with pre red light warning system (don’t know what they are referred to as I’m not from here originally) and the driver in an adjacent lane either speeds up or does not slow down even though we all know their purpose is to warn the light IS going to change by the time we get there.

I sometimes feel I’m in an unfair situation where we all know the rules and others ignore them to suit themselves. I’m getting better at just accepting the fact it’s not my job to change how others drive except for the fact I’m concerned my inaction may lead to an accident to myself or others because of the ignorance or lack of consideration by some of those we must share roads with.

Submitted by E-Mail

When I was 17 and the worlds best driver, I pulled a stunt similar to the one you described.

I pulled into the right hand lane and timed my entry into the intersection just as the light turned green, I accelerated past the traffic in the centre lane and switched to the centre lane just ahead of all those law-abiding suckers and was going to get to my destination a minute or two sooner than I planned.

OOPS. Not so fast because in my rear view mirror I saw an unmarked police vehicle with its blue and red flashing lights.

It was a small city back then so I recognized the officer because I had seen him in his unmarked vehicle before. He was the head of the traffic enforcement unit. He said, “Well that was a pretty fancy piece of driving you just showed me. Where did you learn to drive like that? “

I’ve always been a bit of a smart ass but I hung my head and bit my lip.

He asked me where I worked and I told him. He told me that he knew the CEO of my company and wondered if he would be impressed by my behaviour.

I admitted that I would be in big trouble.

He said that if I would promise to drive more safely and follow the rules, the matter would be forgotten but there would be no second chances.

That meeting with a very good cop and a really nice guy had a more profound impact on me and my driving behaviour than the two or three tickets he could have written.

I saw the sergeant several times over the next few years and had the greatest respect for him and the way he did his job. I shall never forget that incident.

Submitted by E-Mail

This situation involves myself, not as a driver but as a pedestrian, a vehicle & a police vehicle. The other day I was crossing Hwy. 19A at the intersection with McMillan Ave. in Parksville. The pedestrian crossing light was in my favour. A vehicle on my right executed a left turn while I was half way across the intersection. Basically the vehicle cut in front of me. Generally drivers wait until the pedestrian has completed his crossing. Prior to commencing my crossing I had noticed a police vehicle stopped at the red light in the north bound lane of 19 A. Should he have apprehended the vehicle that cut in front of me, if in fact he even noticed???

Yes!

If the officer saw this, they should have done something about it.

As you say, it is possible that their attention was elsewhere but it is possible that they saw and decided not to bother or what they were headed to was more important.

You are welcome to call the non-emergency line, explain your point of view and inquire as to why no action was taken. The response should be reasonable or an apology offered.

Submitted by E-Mail

Some years ago, the Police were testing out a device that emitted a powerful electromagnetic pulse that completely disabled a vehicle's computer systems, effectively bringing it to a halt. I imagine it never got adopted because it involved maneuvering a robotic vehicle under the engine of the target vehicle, not an easy thing to do at high speed.

Wouldn't you like to have such a gadget for situations like this?

Submitted by E-Mail

When I had good reflexes and little status, efficiency was important and yes, I was frisky at times. Now the meeting or event does not start until I arrive, so I enjoy adhering to speed limits (although this can be its own challenge on Highway 17 on Vancouver Island where the limit seems to change every kilometre.) It’s power inverse, the more power you have, the less you need to deploy it. A rumbling exhaust, a constant lane-changer, a lane-change blocker... I think: “compensating....”

Submitted by E-Mail

It's nice that you think that way, but being on the road every day in the lower mainland, stuff like that happens more than you think. I get passed while doing 60 km on the Low Level Road in north van. Guess what the speed limits. 60KM with a double line.

Another move I've noticed is the Drag races from the light which traveling west bound on to Low Level Rd from Main St. For those of you not familiar with that intersection...

It's another dismal make it fit type of idea. 2 lanes forward to the hill straight, with a left turn at the top of the hill taking trucks onto the over pass across the RR tracks and down into the port. There is a light at the top for entering and exiting the port over pass. The drags begin when leaving the light to proceed West on L L Rd. You see there is a slight problem The left lane becomes a left turn lane just before the intersection for turning left into the port. Thats where the fun begins. Not too many people actually turn left to enter the port and would probably imagine they have a lane for tuning left into the port. They do and magically, they're in it. The lane becomes the left turn lane at the top of the hill. No signs telling you what's coming, just a big fat white left turn arrow pops up in their lane All of a sudden your nice position in the right lane becomes the war zone as the enemy realizes their predicament of nowhere to go, but to MERGE. Mostly it seems, because every one is impatient (did I just say that), (yes I did) and they know it's their god given right to get into that right lane no matter what. My favourite move is when there's no one BEHIND you, yet they have to get in Front of you (No matter what).

Now I could describe what happens with the peeps that want to beat the light and decide they have to run you over to get all the way over to the right lane to travel up Third St hill, but thats another bedtime story.

MERGE:

British English: merge /mɜːdʒ/ VERB. If one thing merges with another, or is mergedwith another, they combine or come together to make one whole thing. You can also say that two things merge, or are merged. The bank merged with a rival bank last year. He sees sense in merging the two agencies while both are new.

YIELD:

It means Yield. In Alberta, as in the rest of Canada, a yieldsign indicates that each driver must prepare to stop (or give way) if necessary to let a driver on another approach proceed. ... Both drivers have equal rights-of-way and responsibility in a merging situation. A merge is NOT the same as a yield.

We have to remember what these 2 words mean while driving in todays "me first" traffic.

Made me chuckle.

It's another dismal make it fit type of idea. 2 lanes forward to the hill straight, with a left turn at the top of the hill taking trucks onto the over pass across the RR tracks and down into the port.

Honestly, within the space constraints, I don't think the engineers could have designed this any better. As you say, it's designed for truck access to the waterfront (all of this recent Low Level Road revamping was designed in part to remove railroad level grade crossings, just as they have done at several other locations along the North Shore industrial waterfront areas).

So by creating a lane split where drivers crossing the intersection can finish on one side or the other was logical, as the truckers wouldn't have to contend with a lane change to get into place to access the port. All designed for smooth traffic flow, and I think mostly they've achieved it.

But as you point out, the signage is terrible, uh, non-existent. And to the drivers at the light who are unfamiliar with the situation, it appears that they have a dual lane highway opening up. So I think that often, the 'drag race' is drivers responding to a surprise necessity to move over to the right lane.

That said, there are certainly some who deliberately head for the left lane in order to get ahead of others going the same place they are; and the others do, all too often, respond by making it difficult to get ahead of them. It's all a bit silly, but looking at the ICBC Crash Map, it doesn't appear to be a high collision area along there, even if people act a bit selfishly.

Submitted by E-Mail

MY concerns are drivers rarely stop at STOP SIGNS, especially at a 4-way-stop.

I operate a small private daycare and we are often on the streets of the West End and EVERYDAY, I see drivers not stoping where they should be. If I demonstrate any type of concern to what they've just done, they get very defensive, like .... "there was no one coming so fuck off."

Another area of danger is cars coming out of alley's to a street. Very dangerous. Cars along the Georgia corridor from Bute to Denman is like a suicide stretch with cars speeding through red lights to make it to work on time.

It's horrible.

Even with 3 children, 2 in stroller and 1 walking with me, some drivers do not care.

Why isn't there more police monitoring this ? If I see it everyday, why aren't these maniacs being "STOPPED!?"

It Could Be Up To You

This is a good question to ask of your city council. They decide how many police officers are available and to some extent decide where the police focus their resources.

You could also write to the police and ask as well.

If you are not content with their answers, you could choose to try and change it.

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