Column: Make an effort to drive better

With summer officially upon us, the number of cars and, perhaps, impatient drivers on Victoria streets will soon rise.

With summer officially upon us and warmer weather hopefully on its way, the number of cars and, perhaps, impatient drivers on Victoria streets will soon rise.

While police were out enforcing a tougher watch for high-risk drivers throughout May, it’s clear that many drivers still haven’t got the message.

As a fairly new driver – yes, that’s an ‘N’ displayed at the back of my car – I’d like to think that not only I, but other drivers around me, obey the rules of the road and make an effort to drive safely, no matter what time of the year.

That means staying within the legal speed limit, being attentive while driving and not giving in to road rage.

I only recently started driving on a daily basis, and I’m continuously amazed by the things I see drivers around me do.

Just last week, I was driving to work and while stopped in traffic, I saw a young man drive past me. He didn’t catch my eye because of his charming looks, he caught my eye because he had ear buds in his ears while driving.

Is it not enough to have the radio playing during your morning commute?

Having earphones in can’t be safe, nor smart. Not only are you putting yourself at risk, you’re putting other drivers around you in danger as well.

Another act I’ve witnessed, on many counts, is drivers texting and talking on the phone.

While I’ll admit to sending a text or two when stopped at a red light, I could never imagine texting while driving, let alone holding a phone to my ear and steering simultaneously.

Maybe some people are just better at multi-tasking than I am, but not only is using your phone while driving illegal, it’s also just plain stupid.

The thing about this situation that frightens me the most is when people talk and text while on the highway.

It’s annoying enough when people tailgate me while I am going the legal 80 km/h. But having a tailgater who’s talking on their phone behind me makes me feel anything but safe on the road.

One of the biggest problems I’ve noticed is drivers who switch lanes at the very last possible second. Rather than planning their trip and knowing which lane they need to be in to make a left turn ahead, for example, drivers choose to wait. Then before they reach the traffic light, they suddenly squeeze past two lanes of traffic just to make that turn.

If more drivers mapped out their route, or maybe knew where they’re going, fewer rash decisions would be made on the road.

Drivers who recklessly weave in and out of lanes, simply because they’re impatient or in a hurry, are another problem.

If it’s rush hour and everybody is stuck in traffic, driving in and out of lanes won’t get you any further than anyone else.

According to ICBC, almost 60 per cent of crashes are caused by speeding and distracted drivers.

Distracted driving is defined as using communicative or video equipment while operating a vehicle, as well as inattentive driving.

High-risk driving includes failing to yield right of way, tailgating, improper passing and speeding.

Speeding seems to be one habit drivers just can’t drop.

I don’t think I go a day without witnessing a driver zoom past me, whether on the highway or in a 50 km/hr zone.

Unless speeding up is necessary to safely pass a car, drivers shouldn’t let their impatience rule their decision-making.

Just as drivers shouldn’t let dumb decisions, such as texting while driving, determine how safe roads are for others.

Laws exist for a reason. And unless we want our next paycheque to go toward paying for a speeding ticket, or worse, a hospital bill, it’s important to re-evaluate our driving habits and make an effort to drive safely.

Brittany Lee is a reporter intern with the Victoria News.

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