Little Things Can Make Big Differences

ExclamationI've been riding as a passenger in heavy traffic this past week and have had time to watch and think about what is going on around me. There are many small things that a driver should do out of habit to minimize their chances of being involved in a collision.

In no particular order of importance, here are my suggestions.

Signal! The bulbs are good for more than 3 or 4 blinks too. Nothing tells others what you would like to do better than a well used signal light lever. There are polite drivers out there who will actually see your signal and help you accomplish what you want to do.

When you stop in traffic, you should see pavement between the front edge of your hood and the bottoms of the back tires of the vehicle in front of you. If you don't, you are too close.

The extra space may prevent you from being pushed into the vehicle in front of you if your vehicle is hit from behind. It also gives you room to move if an emergency vehicle approaches.

Stop before the sidewalk when you are entering a street, not on top of it. Pedestrians really appreciate your consideration.

Maintain an appropriate following distance for the conditions. When you do this, you control your own safety margin and to some extent that of the driver behind you. They will have more time to realize that something is happening and can then avoid colliding with you.

Leave yourself an out, especially around heavy commercial vehicles. Having a space to move into on your left or right if something happens may mean avoiding a crash.

Use some lane discipline. You are entitled to one lane and have to stay between the lines of that lane.

If you don't know where you are going, stop and figure it out. Better still, plan before you leave. If you don't have GPS in your vehicle, cell phone or tablet, the internet is full of useful resources.

Don't commit random acts of driving by ignoring traffic controls when you decide you've chosen incorrectly.

Remember that there are drivers behind you that will become impatient and try to pass by. Pull over, stop, let them by and then continue at reduced speed as you try to locate the address you are trying to find.

Scan around and well ahead of your vehicle. Preparation is preferrable to surprise.

Early detection of obstructions ahead allow you to plan to avoid them rather than react in a place where you may not have a choice.

Anticipate the traffic lights. Braking lightly and coasting to a stop saves wear and tear on your vehicle. Aside from being safer, it also saves you money on maintenance and fuel.

Screaming up to the red light and braking heavily at the last second invites the driver behind you to join you in a collision, especially if they are not paying attention or are momentarily focused elsewhere.

If another driver insists on infringing on your right of way, let them have it. It's better to maintain as much control of the situation as you are able to rather than insist on being part of the incident.

None of these things are difficult to do and are simple habits to develop. The choice to be safe is always yours.

Comments

I'd like to add..

On a multi laned roadway, don't position your vehicle in another vehicle's "blind" spot.  Hang back or get at least beside the other vehicle.

Yes you can position you vehicle anywhere you like, however considering what might happen will pay off in the long run.  An ounce of prevention and all.

Submitted by E-Mail

I am constantly puzzled about why so many drivers when wishing to turn left position their car in the middle of the road when there is clearly space for two cars – I am not talking about a road that has lane markings, but other roads that are wide enough to take two cars. One car could be planning to turn right – or at least preparing to turn right  - but there is insufficient space when this left turner sits right in the middle of the section of road rather than positioning the car with the driver’s side close to the centre line.

Response to Lack of Courtesy?

My first thought is because this forces the following vehicle to wait their turn. When they don't, they often stop ahead of the left turn vehicle and become a view obstruction preventing the left turn driver from proceeding.

It may not be the legal thing to do, but I certainly understand why the left turn driver does this.

Impeding traffic

One thing that is always in my mind when driving is what can I do to help other motorist. And this is one of the occasions that I believe is a simple little adjustment to how I position my vehicle.

If I am turning left and you are turning right or even going straight through I do not see where positioning myself close to the center line so you can pull alongside of me will change my ability to turn left. I have to have enough space in both directions to make my left turn and or to even allow a driver on the other side of the road from going straight through. You on the other hand turning right just need enough space to make your turn. I do it all the time and have never been in a situation where the car turning right beside me has hampered my view and I drive a compact car in a community that pick-ups and SUV's rule.

One of my pet peeves when it comes to turning left is on two lane roads at a traffic light. The driver that sits behind the stop line for the intersection rather than moving into the intersection. That way when the light turns amber and the drivers from the other direction have come to a stop they can complete their turn. Don't know how many times I have seen people sitting at the stop line and no one gets to make a left turn on that light. In fact if there is enough room for two cars to enter into the intersection I believe that is what they should do. At least two cars will get through on one rotation of the traffic light.

Maybe our moderator can let us know if there is any restrictions on the number of vehicles that can enter an intersection? I have never come across anything that I can recall in the B.C. MVA. On the other hand the Alberta MVA clearly states that only one vehicle can enter an intersection waiting for a chance to turn left at any one time.

 

No Restrictions

As many as will fit are allowed.

Clarity

Firstly, thank you for the many good driver advice emails I have received. They are always useful for those drivers wanting to improve their driving experience. I would like some clarity on the above email specifically the sentence starting with "Stop before the sidewalk" should this read crosswalk?. And the sentence " Don't commit random acts of driving....this is not clear to me. Thank you for all you do for us BC drivers liking to improve our driving!

Sidewalk

Some drivers have the crosswalk stopping figured out, but many leave a parking lot without giving any concern at all for the sidewalk. You have to stop before the sidewalk in that case.

Random is not a good thing when driving. Follow the rules and tell everyone what you are doing. In other words, be organized, not random.

Thank you for the kind comment. This is still an interesting hobby for me.

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