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Slow down, survive the drive

by Patrick Raftis

I know drivers in our part of the world are absolutely blessed in terms of traffic volume and the attendant risks and hazards.

My own 40-minute commute to work is generally a pleasant drive in the country compared to the harrowing missions most GTA motorists are compelled to endure on a daily basis.

Still, here in the hinterlands we have our own version of a rural rush hour, those early morning sessions when school buses join the rest of the motoring public, creating situations where caution and adherence to rules of the road are paramount for everyone’s safety.

This time of year, you can add to that farm vehicles, which necessarily travel more slowly, inspiring far too many hasty travellers to perform the most dangerous driving manoeuvre: passing.

For those who don’t think overtaking another vehicle is a big deal, I’m always reminded of a long-ago lesson from a driving instructor who suggested counting seconds after pulling back in from a pass before meeting an oncoming vehicle with what appears to be plenty of room to spare. Often, the margin of error can turn out to be just a few seconds. Not a lot when one considers the potentially catastrophic consequences of miscalculation.

In Wellington County we’ve added another complicating factor a few days each month now that we have large trucks touring every byway picking up garbage and recycling. We can and should continue to debate how cost effective and environmentally impactful this is, given the dearth of rural residences that seem to have items out for pickup on the designated days. It’s hard to accurately measure the value, given the extra costs involved have been masked by the increase in user fees, keeping the bottom line in line.

However, what can’t be argued is the need for local motorists to learn how to deal with such vehicles when they encounter them on road shoulders.

During one drive to work this week I was forced to the shoulder twice. The first was because an oncoming car simply swerved into my lane to get around a garbage truck on a rural county road. The second incident, on a major county artery, involved an impatient motorist pulling out and passing a massive farm implement, clearly without any consideration of the potential for oncoming traffic (yeah, that was me honking and offering you a gesture considered traditional in such circumstances).

 All of which brings me back to my original point. We are indeed fortunate to live in an area where, if we drive sensibly, we are exposed to a fraction of the risk endured by those in more populous regions.

Slow down, enjoy the drive and let’s all get there in one piece.

May 19, 2017

 
 

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