COM0011: Consideration Beyond Oneself: Thoughts on Driving

I am a car guy, and for that matter a driver – but rarely pilot a vehicle.

I ride a bike for as long as the seasons suggest I can do so safely. Most years this is October. The rest of the time I walk, unless driving is the only option.

For as long as I have held a license (one parking ticket) I have shined vehicles and kept them in top shape. These efforts are for two exclusive reasons: groceries and camping (see Blog No. 5).

There seems a problem with driver behaviour. IMG_1860Like bugs in trees, this problem appears to be spreading. One common issue is the freeze of use of the in-car directional. You know, the one that tells others what you’re doing. Seriously, how long does it take to signal?

IMG_1600Rather, how much less time does it take to signal than to text message or speak hands-on into a phone?

It is a delicate topic writing about something I am also responsible: driver respect and safety. I can assure you I bring the respect. In my experience with respect out front safety takes care of itself.

This is also not supporting or sanctioning bad cycling, those who do little to help drivers or move the larger needle forward within a transportation situation that I marvel isn’t a lot worse, from a death stats perspective, than it is.

Some recent examples:

Within the last two weeks, riding down Somerset, lady in Acura (Quebec plates, confrimed up close) doesn’t acknowledge me (rear window view eyes straight ahead), much less signal, and turns right, into a laneway, cutting me off at the tire. Really?

Within the last 72 hours. Approach fourway. Stop. Actually stop. Look. Proceed. Woman in Toyota coasts across stop line and accelerates, eyes straight on, cutting me off at the tire. I followed her to the next light and banged on the window. Hello. Miss, could you please pay attention? My life depends on it.

Other questions:

Stop signs. Who uses them – by the actual rules of the road?

Yellow lights. Seems an invitation to go, no?

The overall picture is thankfully positive. The responsible, respectful and accountable drivers outnumber those who are not so responsible, accountable or especially respectful.  I will admit sometimes when I observe and let rampant transgressions get to me, they do.

This is what I wonder most: We live in the best country in the world. Or at least a top-fiver. It’s at least, Ottawa proper, probably the singularly most polite spot (Yes please, No thank you), with outdoor options (and grocery stores) second to none.

Yet behind the wheel we seemingly can’t be a fraction as nice to each other. Why is that?

3 thoughts on “COM0011: Consideration Beyond Oneself: Thoughts on Driving

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more about the lack of turn signaling – I find this very frustrating. And, what happened to the friendly hand wave to thank people for letting you in? Or the hand down to greet your fellow motorcyclists? Everyone seems to be in too much of a hurry and too focused on where they need to be that they forget or can’t be bothered to think of anyone outside the world of their car. My daughter gets her G1 at the end of this month. I will be teaching her how to drive respectfully.

  2. After getting into an accident a few years ago, I’ve started to change my thought pattern when I’m behind the wheel. My general stance now is “it only takes a millisecond” a millisecond to veer into oncoming traffic, or hit a cyclist, or rear-end another vehicle! Maybe if everyone was more cognizant of the heartache and inconveniences of being in an accident (even a minor one!), then they would be much more likely to drive safely and patiently. Rolling through a four-way might seem like a good idea when you’re comfortable in your own neighbourhood and in a hurry to get somewhere, but how good of an idea will it seem after you’ve permanently disabled a pedestrian and are charged with a criminal offence??

  3. Bad driving is everywhere and lack of attention and respect are top issues. Is it uncool to signal? Did some of us miss the memo? Lack of signaling is definitely a problem with drivers and cyclists. I also always enjoy watching people who realize they are in the wrong lane or about to miss an exit or street and loose all sense of who is around them and just cut across lanes or stop abruptly.It makes me wonder, do they just brace themselves and react or actually figure they are important enough to stop traffic or cut people off to get to where they just realized they need to go?

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