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A SCRIBE’S MUSINGS: A few pet peeves about dangerous drivers

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My driver’s licence was earned in Listowel, as soon as possible after I turned 16, and I have been an active driver on highways and gravel roads across Ontario (and occasionally internationally) for 48 years.

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I and my vehicles have been rear-ended three times while waiting for others ahead of me to turn or to step on the gas. I have received two speeding tickets, and one ticket for going through an orange light in downtown Toronto (unwarranted!). Plus, I incurred one very nasty crash near Fingal in 1996 – a life-altering mishap.

My self-concept overall is that I am a fairly safe, cautious, and focused driver.

Having driven thousands and thousands of kilometres, coast to coast in Canada several times, and having lived in, and frequently travelled home from, Chapleau in Northern Ontario, I have witnessed several truly frightening and very concerning “dangerous bad habits” which regularly make me fear for the safety and lives of other drivers, pedestrians, farmers, and well, just about everyone and everything in the vicinity.

I am sure that each of us could create an extremely long list of such vehicular behaviours which would make our “top 10 scariest and bizarre acts of driving misconduct.” Here is mine.

For each of these, aggressiveness is often the key, whether the perpetrator is conscious of what they are doing or not. Also, assume that I am at the time of each occurrence driving in my lane, at or slightly above the posted speed limit – trying to blend into the flow of traffic, following the rules of the road to the best of my ability.

Other life- and safety- threatening behaviours include:

  • Tailgating, or following too closely. All tailgaters are scary, but the bigger and heavier the vehicle, the less likely that they will be able to stop before crashing into something or someone.
  • Distracted driving. Cell phones, eating, drinking, yelling at passengers and turning their head while they do so, watching movies on their devices, or merely facing and talking to the person next to them, with eyes not on the road or other traffic.
  • Headlights. Burned-out headlights and tail/brake lights, high beams on, bright halogen lights that are at pickup truck height which blind me 100 per cent in my rear-view mirrors, or beaming straight into my eyes.
  • Speeding. Risking loss of control of the vehicle, with disastrous potential results.
  • Failure to signal. I cannot predict or safely prepare for/avoid your unannounced intentions.
  • Passing when it is not legal or safe, sprinting ahead then then cutting the other vehicle off, forcing it to swerve or to brake at great risk to all other on the road.
  • Being blissfully ignorant of pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.
  • Pulling out into traffic when it is dangerous or illogical to do so.
  • Failure to clear their vehicle of snow, ice, fogged windows, or clutter, preventing clear or any visibility.
  • Throwing garbage out the window into the ditch or on to the roadway while driving, or emptying their cigarette butts, garbage, or leftover foods in parks, parking lots, and anywhere but a proper waste or recycling container.

I do my best to avoid practicing any of these inappropriate and dangerous actions, while following the rules of the road and being non-aggressive. Too many people take out their anger and frustration on the world when sheltered with those tons of steel, glass, and rubber, transforming into the Mr. Hydes of the road.

Please avoid engaging in any of these practices, and regularly maintain your vehicle, for everyone’s mutual protection.

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