Many of the folks residing in Carbonear and surrounding area travel by vehicle to and from their destinations each and every day, and a number of them think nothing of it, and I mean that literally.
From someone's perspective who has driven around 2.5 million miles over the years — accident free — and who now tallies up the miles by walking more in recent years, I would like to share some personal observations and thoughts which may be beneficial to inexperienced drivers, those motorists who do not drive any significant distance, and especially to those who do not have their full focus and attention on their driving.
Continually, you will notice drivers who are well over the posted speed limits and don't realize it or just don't care. You really have to laugh at those who fly by at a high rate of speed and then have to quickly apply their brakes in attempting to round the next gradual bend in the street or road.
Do they even realize how foolish their actions look to someone on foot whom they have just passed?
These actions clearly indicate that they don't have their minds on their driving. With normal speed approaching the slight turns, sheer momentum of the vehicle itself would have easily carried them around the bend and brakes would have never had to be applied to begin with. Brake lights are constantly noticed coming on in these situations.
In some cases, you can hear vehicles with the sound of even greater acceleration as they pass by you when clearly there is a red stop light or stop sign a very short distance ahead. It would be great to have all the money spent by those hyper people doing this who have their brakes and pads constantly replaced several more times than other laid back drivers in the course of a year.
The other observation that is troublesome is when someone is pulling out from a side road directly in front of an oncoming vehicle and that driver has to quickly apply their brakes to avoid collision. How rude and ignorant is this?
Then to top it off, the pullout vehicle will once again make another turnoff a short ways down the road.
Are we a society in that much of a hurry? It's no wonder that nowadays people are dying like never before with strokes and heart attacks while in their 30s and 40s due to not slowing down and taking a slower approach to things.
Here is an old adage to ponder regarding life, which applies to driving as well: "The sun is going to come up tomorrow morning the same way as it did today."
On the major four-lane highways, constantly in the opposite oncoming dual lanes, vehicles are noticed passing by all bunched up in packs of about four to 10, all in very close proximity to each other and travelling at high speeds. Just recently there was a 96-car pileup on the news elsewhere in Canada.
This is definitely a recipe for an accident looking for a place to happen. This potential disaster could be easily avoided if motorists would try and position themselves accordingly so that they are away from any vehicles in front or behind them for a lengthy distance. It should be and can be done with only a little bit of additional thought process.
Is it too much to ask drivers to keep their minds on their driving? Constantly, cell phones are still being seen held to ears while driving and other non-essential things being carried out while on the go.
Some drivers on the road do have good driving habits and a few also have the "art of driving," acquired from massive mileage driven and greater time spent behind the wheel over the years.
In contrast, you have the driver who only ventures out once a week for a Sunday dinner at the neighbour's house just down the road. This, sadly, becomes the extent of their driving experience.
Inexperienced drivers may wonder what the "art" to driving is.
Applying the ideas mentioned in this article consistently over time will make you a more observant driver and you'll find that these ideas will become automatic intuitions within you even before problems begin to present themselves while you drive.
Be aware of your surroundings
Drivers should take the approach that driving is much more than simply stepping on the gas pedal from point A to point B .
Your best friend in a vehicle should be the rear-view mirror. As strange as that may sound, it can keep you out of trouble on the roads just as much as looking forward or using the side mirrors.
With the ability to see behind you, a repeated quick glance now and then in the rear-view mirror will help you in sizing up the traffic situation as it is unfolding behind you as well. The key is to be observant in all directions as much as possible.
In many cases, inexperienced drivers tend to only look forward as if they have horse blinders on and oblivious to all other happenings around them.
A good piece of advice when driving is not to "assume" that the other driver will do the right thing because, as we all know, in many cases that's not going to happen.
Pay heed to the so-called "99 per cent factor."
This number may be exaggerated somewhat, however, the vast majority of drivers on the road today just aren't paying full attention to their driving like they should be.
Priority when behind the wheel should be your personal responsibility to ensure that every road ventured onto has your full, undivided attention for the duration and to make sure that you are not the cause of an accident, but also to narrow the odds of ending up in one caused by someone else's inattentiveness.
Also to ensure that not only the vehicle being driven, but the passengers you may have onboard, experience a safe journey from start to finish.
It is hard to try and keep absolute ongoing attention while driving, however, over the years it will pay off if you attempt as much as possible to minimize that inattention every time you drive
Another policy to incorporate into driving: on single lane roads or highways, if traffic piles up behind because you are the slower driver, whenever and wherever possible and safe to do so, pull off on to the shoulder or next available wider side road or space to allow that faster traffic to pass.
In Newfoundland, while travelling between two smaller communities it is very noticeable that this is a much larger problem than it needs to be. Slower traffic will not pull over for the faster. It seems once again to be an issue of the slower driver not paying attention or not using their rear-view mirror to see who is behind them .
Again, inexperience probably prevails when they are refusing to pull off for miles upon miles when in essence there were plenty of places that they could have easily done so along the way.
Four-way stops also seem to be problematic for a lot of folks. Observing ahead of time while approaching these will indicate who has the right-of-way and in what sequence. Attention is the key as the others at the stop may not know what rules apply themselves or weren't watching as they were approaching. Reading the driver's manual is a must regarding this.
Sadly and unfortunately, the people who drive with no care or concern for their fellow motorists and who don't pay attention like they should driving our roads are some of the people who won't be reading this article.
Kudos to the good drivers out there who do apply these techniques and to those who need to hone up on their driving skills, practice these methods and you will be doing your fellow drivers and yourself a huge favour.
As our province continues to progress and our highways experience larger volumes of traffic, hope is that the ideas presented here will enlighten folks to be more observant and become better and safer drivers.
— Allen Willie writes from Carbonear