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A privilege, not a right

by Dave Adsett

Driving is one of those things that people often take for granted.

The St. David Street bridge closure in Fergus seems to have brought out the worst in some drivers, prompting this plea for people to take a bit more care. It isn’t a problem that can be simply pawned off on impatient travelers making their way to cottage country.

Between construction and increased traffic congestion, it has become a challenge some days staying safe, let alone trying to get parked to pick up the mail each day.

Despite signage to the contrary many drivers choose to race up the hill towards Knox Church. Throughout that maze of side-streets with multiple stop signs, even defensive drivers risk injury by fellow motorists in way too big a hurry.

One morning as we approached an intersection we figured the other driver wasn’t stopping so we slowed up and sure enough, he went right through the stop sign while finishing some work on his phone. It didn’t seem to fizz on him that he missed a brush with trouble.

Trying to merge into traffic from a parking spot by the TD bank can also be difficult. Impatient drivers making the right turn going eastward, do so with such speed and gusto, people pulling out need to be extra cautious.

Heaven forbid if a pedestrian tried to jaywalk further down the street, or a kid darted out. These annoyances are but a few examples, during what seems like a summer of poor driving.

Police, ambulance and fire personnel see the results of poor driving all the time. They get to comfort survivors and have gruesome images seared into their memory – images so awful they make most horror films look like tiny talent time. After dealing with that, police or victim services get to visit loved ones and break the news about injuries or a death. Shattered families are rarely the same again.

Accidents do happen and we feel truly sorry for all involved. But, there are events that could have been avoided with even the most basic rules - whether common sense, a rudimentary understanding of physics or formal schooling in driver training classes.

Yet another almost head-on collision was shared with us this past Tuesday. A friend who was doing 90 kilometres per hour (in an 80) was passed by two cars, and both vehicles got back into their proper lane in the nick of time. As often happens, they were both stopped at the next stop light as our friend cruised in behind them. There was no reward to their risk.

Without fail, rolling stops seem to have become the new standard. Approaching lights or stop signs, drivers are to come to a full and complete stop. Instead, many people - and age doesn’t seem to matter – slow down just long enough for a quick peek before entering the intersection.

Narrow roads with on-street parking should be a clue to not to exceed speed limits and use extra caution. Instead, drivers often ignore the congestion and barrel through, failing to think what would happen if a child ran into the street, or a driver opened their door unwittingly.

Busy evenings and weekends seem to stretch the patience to the point where everyone is trying to get somewhere quicker. Racing across a gas station parking lot to get back on the highway, or purposely blocking the lead driver by pulling up on the shoulder to turn right seem acceptable to some drivers today. These examples of impatience can cause needless accidents.

Then there are the distractions – whether impairment or playing with a gadget. The roads are busy enough these days without adding more confusion to the mix. Drinking or drugs or using a phone to text or talk are a matter of playing the numbers game or like rolling the dice with safety.

Eventually, these dangerous pursuits will lead to an unnecessary accident where people are maimed or killed.

The majority of drivers who treat driving like the privilege it is, should not have to compromise their safety for people who don’t respect the law.

It’s not too much to ask, in our books anyway.


August 10, 2018


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