There are many milestones in childhood and many of them have to do with mobility. From crawling to walking. Walking to running. Tricycle to bicycle. The next thing you know they are old enough to drive. This is a huge step towards independence. In my family, it means not having to drive my youngest to dance class three times per week! It also means higher insurance and more stress – all parts of parenthood I never thought about 16 years ago.
I have become keenly aware of my own driving habits as I realize that I am modeling what I want her to remember.
For instance, signal lights are not optional. You would never know it by many of the drivers currently on the road. Signal lights come standard on all vehicles and are meant to be used every time you turn a corner or change a lane. Not once in awhile or when you feel like it. Every time! Signal lights are not for you because you know where you are going. They are for the other driver so they know too. For some, it is a big secret. I get particularly annoyed with the guy who approaches the light and then half way through the intersection puts on the signal light to blink once. Or the person who signals to the corner and then turns it off at the last minute as if to say “Just kidding!”
Next, put your headlights on when it is dusk or getting dark. Daytime running head lights are a great addition. I started to drive before daytime running headlights were on most vehicles. You had to turn your lights on during the day to be seen. Now that they are on many people forget that you have no taillights on. It can be really hard to see some of your vehicles when there are no taillights. This annoys me, because if I hit you it will be my fault – even though I can’t see you.
Why are some drivers still texting and driving? Texting and driving is illegal. I know that you are texting and driving because you are looking up and down at your crotch. You think that you are all sneaky – but you are not. You drive like an idiot when you do this. The rest of us are annoyed and shake our heads as you go too slow and then all of a sudden speed up or stay too long once the light has turned green. Please stop! This is dangerous (and did I mention illegal)?
Merging does not mean STOP and go when it is clear. Merging works like a zipper. You keep driving and the traffic you are going into will let you in. Ideally one car in line – one car merge and so on. Everybody gets where they are going if we all practice a little courtesy. (Watch for a future blog on traffic circles I don’t have room in this article).
Don’t even get me started about the driving habits of some of the semi trucks on highway 63 that speed through town. (Not all drivers by the way – the vast majority are professional). I noted a particularly dangerous driver and called our own highway department. They could not have been more professional. They contacted the company and told them a complaint had been filed. I was grateful that my concerns had been addressed and the driver would at least know that people were watching and some of us would not tolerate dangerous driving, cutting in and out of traffic with a full load on.
I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about being cut off. There are two possible responses when you cut someone off – or vice versa. A: Freak out, swear, yell, flip the bird, tailgate and shake your fist at the person. Or B: Remember that person likely didn’t cut you off to be a jerk. They may have genuinely been in your blind spot (most cars have one). On my way home from work one day, I cut off a white Ford work truck. If he had not been watching and driving defensively, he would have run right into me and it would have been my fault. As soon as I realized it I slowed right down and felt my heart race. I moved to the far left lane and watched him get in right behind me. I watched carefully, expecting him to get as close to my bumper as possible to prove his point. He did not. As we continue across the bridge I expected him to come racing up beside me to shake his head or flip the bird. He did not. As I turned to head up Thickwood he turned behind me and headed in the same direction. As we hit the top of the hill and stopped at the light he pulled up beside me. I turned down my window and waved and said “I’m sorry”. He smiled and waved and mouthed to me “No worries”. Thank you Mr. white Ford!
I am not a perfect driver but I try to be a safe driver. I stop at stop signs, I don’t race through yellow lights, I use my signal lights even when there is no one around. I try to be patient at the end of a long day. I slow down passing working vehicles and carefully watch my speed in school zones. I try to remember that not everyone grew up driving on the snow and ice (to be fair, I couldn’t drive in many of the cities of the world either – even without snow!)
So, Fort McMurray drivers I hope this is a reminder to slow down, follow the rules be a little more patient and use your signal lights!