Reckless behind the wheel

Martha Muzychka
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A couple of years ago, I saw a video that really impressed me. In it, a nine-year-old youngster described his magic hockey helmet.

When he put it on, its magical powers transformed him from a nine-year-old worthy of respect to an adult somehow deserving verbal abuse offered by onlookers in the stands.

I thought about that video this weekend. While Miller Donnelly was talking about parents who go hog wild at the rink, I thought his analogy worked equally well in describing drivers, too.

I know I am not the only one who thinks the quality of driving in this province has deteriorated.

It’s a topic of conversation most days, but it really becomes a trending topic, to borrow a phrase from Twitter, when the weather gets bad.

My husband and I have taken to keeping a running tally of the more egregious examples of bad driving.

In 48 hours we have seen an illegal U-turn at 6 a.m. at one of St. John’s most dangerous intersections and a fishtailing driver who decided the posted ramp speed was directed at other drivers, not himself.

Let’s not even get started on how few drivers understand how a four-way stop works.

One of my most frequent irritants is the driver who blocks the box. That is, a driver proceeds into the intersection even though traffic is not moving beyond it.

The light changes, and there they sit, blocking any traffic from moving anywhere.

Last summer I saw an especially blatant example where the driver clearly had nowhere to go, but went anyway, tried to feign bewilderment at the horn honking directed at her, and then gave all and sundry the finger when she realized no escape was possible.

These are only a couple of the moving violations we frequently see on our roads, but there are almost as many, if not more, when it comes to parking lots.

I remarked to a friend once when we tried to squeeze her mid-size car in a spot shrunk by two Ford F-150s on either side, that like stork parking, there should be truck parking, except at the far end of the lot, not at the front end.

I’ve met many car and truck owners, and they are all reasonable, nice, accommodating people.

Yet it still doesn’t explain how often I see vehicles barreling though stale yellows and reds at intersections, how poorly parked they are in parking lots, and how frighteningly fast they continue to go when snow has freshly fallen.

I have concluded that it must be like the magic helmet syndrome, except when it comes to cars and trucks.

Outside the vehicle, the driver seems to be an ordinary fellow, an average mom, a mild-mannered senior, or an unassuming office worker. Once behind the wheel though, comes a transformation that would rival Dr. Jekyll’s Mr. Hyde for speed and devilment.

When I first learned to drive, my teacher was very clear each and every time we got behind the wheel: drive with your head, not your heart.

His point was that emotion has no place when you are in control of a vehicle averaging about 2,600 pounds if it is a mid-size car or 6,000 pounds if it is a truck.

I wish more drivers would remember this. So many accidents and traffic delays are preventable. Reduce your speed when the weather is bad. Add 10 or 15 minutes to your driving time.

Follow the rules.

Heck, know what the rules are.

Above all, be courteous.

Don’t be that driver we all talk about at the water cooler, on call-in radio shows or Twitter.

 

Martha Muzychka is a writer and consultant working in St. John’s. She longs for the day when teleporting become possible. Email: socialnotes@gmail.com

 

 

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