VIEWPOINT - Being the Best Driver in Victoria is Exhausting

SoapboxIt is impossible to drive anywhere in town without seeing blatant road law, rule and safety violations. ICBC needs (to be disbanded, and insurance be public first of all) to implement a refresher course at certain intervals for a VERY complacent driver base.

This isn’t just a rant, and definitely not hate, but I want to outline some daily occurrences I deal with and why they’re awful, and what you can do about it. I’ve been driving safely, defensively and confidently for 15 years accident free. I know everyone else is the best driver in Victoria to themselves as well. I’m also sure these aren’t just Victoria problems, I’ve just matured as a driver here for the past 8 years and have really become cognizant of it recently.

Anger doesn’t belong on the road. Years ago I realized this and switched from flipping people off, to a very disappointed thumbs down. I think it hits harder, differently and better. Instead of feeling attacked and getting angry, I hope people sense the disappointment in their selfish and ignorant driving and think about it, hopefully leading to change.

Solid white lines are there for a reason, generally in high activity spots where a lane change is unsafe. Crossing a solid white line with all 4 tires of your vehicle is a road violation (chapter 3, page 39 of Learn to Drive Smart). I’m looking at you Mckenzie overpass.

Being courteous is one thing, and of course a nice thing to do. Stopping in an active roadway to let someone turn in front of you (or let a jaywalker through) is unpredictable, and dangerous. Especially reckless if the person turning is crossing two vehicle lanes and a bike lane, which they cannot see, and in my personal experience I have seen avoidable accidents had the rules of the road been followed.

Speaking of cyclists, they exist. I dislike them as a whole, but they’re there. When I am a cyclist, I detest drivers, it’s just how it works. I’ve been behind a cyclist, on my own bike riding nicely in our lane, had a car leisurely pass us, and then turn right directly in front of the cyclist in front of me, who went head over heels over the trunk of this ignorant vehicle. Shoulder checks are a necessity for every right hand turn and lane change. And if you’re making a right turn and you have to stop and yield, don’t stop entirely in the bike lane as I see at pretty much every yield.

Commit to your mistakes. If you realize you’re in a turn only lane but you wanted to go straight, or miss your exit on the highway, don’t make it everyone else’s problem and cause an issue. Commit to your error and take another route.

Rolling stops are illegal, but we all do it, it saves gas and wear and tear on vital vehicle parts - it’s just economical. The ones that bother me are people ripping up to an intersection, blowing past the stop line, through the crosswalk and stopping exactly at the road they’re entering. This is unpredictable and looks like you’re just going to help yourself to the lane. I see a lot of people doing ignorant moves on the road because it just seems like they wanted to and it would be inconvenient for them to follow the rules.

Squeezing in that last left hand turn as the light turns red, and then promptly sitting in the intersection and blocking traffic going the other way. You’re not that important, wait a light cycle.

Large trucks need space to stop, that distance they’re leaving in front of them isn’t for you to squeeze in right in front of them and then slow down. I’ve seen several trucks lock their brakes completely up when someone decides they’re invincible and more important to dart in front of them, then slow down for the red light coming up.

Large trucks again, this “I’m bigger, I’ll win, I’m just going” attitude sucks. I have very little regard for my well being, and ZERO regard for my vehicle. If you squish me, that’ll be on your conscience. And all because you didn’t feel like stopping and starting again, or that light was inconvenient.

Merging - DEAR LAWD MERGING. I cannot believe the amount of Victorians who still blow merging, we’ve even got signs on merging lanes with printed instructions, pictures and everything. Get up to highway speed, pick your spot, turn signal on, end of the merge lane move confidently over into your spot. It is not the responsibility of the highway lane to brake, move or otherwise make a spot for you, the highway is minding its own business trying to stay at speed.

Parking. This goes back to ICBC’s refresher, or you as road users should take the initiative to practice. Head to a suburb, practice some parallel parking, it’s a skill, we live in a city with rapidly dwindling downtown parking. If you see a spot, signal, stop before it so traffic leaves you room, pull up and park.

Comments

Pet Peeves

It is not the responsibility of the highway lane to brake, move or otherwise make a spot for you...

OMG... my biggest pet-peeve.  Drivers really don't know how to merge, they think it's their right to cut in front of you instead of "merging" behind you.  Countless times I've been side-by-side with a merger and they speed up faster then me to cut in front of me instead of merging BEHIND me!  

My other most pet-peeve is all those roundabout users that believe they know how to execute a roundabout while thinking others don't have a clue, when in fact it's those righteous ones who have it all wrong.  They go into a diatribe about signalling when infact signalling only confuses others and let's face it, most drivers are very negligent in the use of their signals so I would NEVER decide my course of action based on another drivers' signal!  That's just poor driving skills.  The best way to execute a roundabout is very, very simple..... wait your turn.  Unfortunately too many drivers are aggressive, uneducated or just plain entitled so they use roundabouts like a merge procedure and just continue on without "yielding".  There are so many bad drivers out there and driving defensively is replaced with driving aggressively.

they speed up faster then me

they speed up faster then me to cut in front of me instead of merging BEHIND me!

Probably don't understand what is being said here. In my mind when it comes to merging somebody is always being cut in front of. The entire idea of merge is one vehicle slips between the other vehicles. Or in plain English you let a person merge in front of you and the next person merges behind you.

Back in the 70's the Lions Gate bridge was an excellent example of this. You had traffic from West and North Van merging. Perfect Zipper merge. In the 80's things changed where some felt they did not have to let anyone in front of them. Merging is fine just not in front of me. Then the bottle necks started.

One thing I have noticed in this forum is that people that drive the speed limit and stay in the left lane are perfect drivers. Never break the law, (although technically staying in the left lane is against the MVA) and it is just those speeders that cause all the problems.

Everyone believes they are perfect drivers. There are a few that admit they break the law, but we are few and far between. What is the old saying about pointing a finger at someone?? Maybe, just maybe we should remember that when complaining about the other idiots on the road. Are we part of the problem or part of the solution? Are we impeding traffic or going with the flow? Are we as perfect as we believe we are, or are we just blind to our own imperfections?

Getting on the Lions Gate Bridge, southbound

Back in the 70's the Lions Gate bridge was an excellent example of this. You had traffic from West and North Van merging. Perfect Zipper merge. In the 80's things changed where some felt they did not have to let anyone in front of them. Merging is fine just not in front of me. Then the bottle necks started.

Interesting comment; I once calculated back around 1980 that I had already crossed that bridge more than 5,000 times ...

From what I recall, both the two lanes out of North Vancouver, after the 'loop', were reduced to a single lane, with a 'Merge to left' sign and arrow on it. The two lanes out of West Vancouver were the same, being reduced to one lane with the lane on the right being directed to 'Merge to left' by a similar sign. And of course after that, if the centre lane of the bridge was in use by northbound traffic (because if was open southbound, everyone understood they should just keep on going, entering the appropriate lane ahead of them) then there would be one more merge needed.

The thing is, most drivers cheerfully ignored those stupid signs, and instead they chose to treat this whole situation as an Alternate Merge, or a Zipper Merge as we would term it these days. And the 'traffic engineers' from Provincial Highways never ever had the sense to realize that their signs were wrong, and the drivers were right. To this day, they have never had the sense to erect some kind of zipper merge signage.

But I will say, that as over the years, the engineers have designed ever wider approach ramps (to allow more space to stash vehicles awaiting their opportunity) plus a Bus/Motorcycle lane up the middle, folks are still pretty reasonable about following this tradition. Maybe not the drivers with out-of-province license plates, or some of those jerks in expensive German cars, but generally speaking I think we north shore folks still manage to work it out pretty fairly. Despite the lack of effective signage ... 

Wow, being best is hard.

It's funny how many drivers feel that "all of your habits are bad but all of my habits are acceptable". Bad habits are bad habits, no matter who has them.

The original poster has some very valid points here, I don't disagree but also some less than stellar observations and practices. The "we all do it for economical reasons" is the most blatant.

Merging, actually it is the responsiblilty of the traffic on the main road in allowing the traffic on the onramp access to the travel lanes, onramps don't have yield signs, merge means both sides share the responsibility equally, one from here, one from there, not "you must merge behind me only", side by side in this situation means neither party was looking forward far enough to make this an uneventful maneuver.

Sharing the road with people that don't practice defensive driving is a fact of life, if you start playing that game as well you are no longer a defensive driver, you have become part of the problem you don't like.

I wish I was best, eh?

But thankfully, though that will never be (despite practicing for the last fifty years), I do keep working on it. 

Defensive driving is an ongoing, fluid challenge (especially if you're on a motorbike, eh) but if a driver finds it too hard they should probably take the bus instead of ranting about it.

Lots of great points here.  I

Lots of great points here.  I don't block intersections (even alleys).  I stop at least a car length back from the intersection to allow people to see past my vechicle so they can safely turn or cross in front of me.  I was in a COVID testing line-up that included a few major and many minor intersections and involved a few right turns; there were many drivers and pedestrians who were unnesssarily delayed while trying to cross the line-up; thankfully there were no emergency vehicles that needed access during the time I was there.  There were others who were crossing where they shouldn't have been, some drivers moved and/or ignored temporary barricades; there were two Special Constables trying to keep traffic moving effeciently but we shouldn't have been needed at all. 

I was taught that if I was the first to stop at an intersection, to leave a car length in front of me until traffic had stopped behind me. I was told it was to avoid being pushed into cross traffic if I was rear-ended, I was also taught not to turn my wheels until I was ready to turn to avoid being pushed into oncoming traffic.  I am amazed by how many rear end accidents involving multiple vehicles are reported in the police blotter for the Sunshine Coast.

Merging, and signalling, and that stuff

Merging - DEAR LAWD MERGING. I cannot believe the amount of Victorians who still blow merging, we’ve even got signs on merging lanes with printed instructions, pictures and everything. Get up to highway speed, pick your spot, turn signal on, end of the merge lane move confidently over into your spot. It is not the responsibility of the highway lane to brake, move or otherwise make a spot for you, the highway is minding its own business trying to stay at speed.

Let's think about what has been stated here. And thank you to all the thinking drivers who realize that while a Yield sign on the on-ramp may indeed indicate who doesn't have right-of-way, merging is a shared responsibility. The mighty Motor Vehicle Act doesn't really deal with it. One could argue that two 'roads' are meeting, in which case Section 173 would demand that the driver on the 'main' road should give right-of-way to the vehicles joining the freeway, or bridge, or whatever. Then again, if this maneuver is legally a lane change (despite the odd spacing of the dotted white line) the onus would be on the driver attempting to merge that they obey Section 151.

Although those Merge signs, using words or pictorials, are typically yellow diamond shaped, with black lettering/imaging, it's my opinion that they're also directing drivers on how to behave with each other. NOBODY has the 'right of way', they have to work it out with each other. As if they were regulatory signs, in black and white.

And working it out with each other (in a freeway kind of situation) should NOT require that anyone use the brake, or significantly interfere with anyone else's progress. Not if they're planning and spacing themselves reasonably to the vehicles around them.

Meanwhile, please note the quoted item that I highlighted, and let's think about signalling. 

Generally speaking, I would always train drivers who are about to pull out from the curb or driveway, or pull into the curb or driveway ... or drivers who are intending to change lanes ... or drivers about to make a turn at an intersection, that they should signal as early as possible (but without misleading as to where they're going to make ther maneuver) and ALSO to look at the pedestrians, cyclists, other vehicle drivers to see if their signal appears to have been noticed, so that conflict can be avoided.

But a driver entering a highway using an on-ramp, as often as not will be approaching from a different angle, and/or a different elevation to the traffic he needs to merge with. They can probably see him, way before he can see them in his mirrors! So that's why I've always taught drivers to hit that signal early, while simultaneously getting up to highway speed on the ramp; it gives the drivers on the highway the maximum amount of time to realize what's intended, and thus, to adjust their own speed and/or traffic lane, to accommodate it.

This is not rocket science! People just have to work with each other, and maybe have a chat with themselves about their attitude behind the wheel, eh?

Google Ads