| By Chantal Poirier-Saykaly, Published November 2012 in SNAP Barrie Newspaper |
I don’t think any driver with more than a couple months driving experience can say they haven’t at some point or another said to themselves, “Whoa, what is this guy doing?” Or something a little less censored. This month we’re putting the spotlight on erratic, unpredictable driving, which is not only a common cause of road rage, but a very risky driving behaviour.
Actions that can be characterized as erratic or unpredictable include (but are not limited to): cutting off another driver, swerving in and out of traffic, disobeying signs and traffic lights, driving much faster or slower than the speed limit, and passing on the right. Each of these actions violate the Highway Traffic Act and could be penalized with a fine and demerit points, but more importantly they endanger the safety of the offender and of other road users.
A seemingly harmless and common unpredictable driving behaviour is lane changing and making a turn without signaling. Have you ever been following a driver who seems to be braking for no reason, only to realize she is making a turn? Or had a driver move into your lane without signalling his intention? Or watched two vehicles almost hit because they both changed lanes at the same time without signalling? In most cases, when another driver fails to signal it’s just annoying, but sometimes the lack of head’s up can result in a near-miss or collision.
The turn signal is one of the few communication tools we have as drivers and it helps make our actions predictable to others. According to recent research by the Society of Automotive Engineers, drivers fail to use their signals when changing lanes, or forget to turn them off, 48% of the time. When it comes to making turns, 25% of drivers don’t signal. Whether the reason is indifference or ignorance, the result of this bad habit is increased road rage and risk. Using your turn signal is the courteous thing to do and the law. For the rest of this month, focus on being a predictable driver and take an extra second or two to communicate your intentions to other road users. It not only makes the roads safer but your fellow drivers will appreciate knowing your next move.