Carnage headlines are the worst, but like most situations too horrible to wrap our heads around, it’s usually easier to conjure up reasons it couldn’t happen to us. Except, sometimes you can do everything right and still pay far too high a price due to someone else’s actions.
Last Sunday night, 9:30 pm. A . A 34-year-old man in a Corvette allegedly following too closely, and made the last unsafe lane change he would ever make and clipped a transport truck. That truck driver lost control, entered another lane and hit a Mazda, then the guard rail.
A 77-year-old female passenger in the Mazda died. The driver of the Corvette died. Both cars were destroyed — it’s hard to look at the scene. It’s brutal to calculate the sheer stupidity and selfishness of that Corvette driver. Not supposed to speak ill of the dead? Too bad. I will reserve every ounce of my sympathy for that poor woman in the Mazda, whoever was driving that car, and that trucker. I’d be remiss not to also note — and thank — the first responders who are daily faced with this grim waste of human life. We should stop looking at movie screens for our heroes.
We’ve all been on the road with an idiot like that ‘Vette driver. Maybe they’re riding your rear bumper, pulling out and cutting you off and leaving you shaking. Maybe they’ve come up behind you out of seemingly nowhere and blasted past you. You shake your head, maybe your fist, and curse how easy it is to get a licence, how lax the policing is. But is there anything you can actually do?
There are some things. Nothing is foolproof, but there are things you can do.
- Stay out of the passing lane unless you’re passing someone, and make sure you have the room and speed to pass if you do. Seems easy enough, but it’s the number one topic you can rile up drivers with. If we’re talking about keeping you safe, then lessen the opportunities for someone to tangle with you. Keep to the right. Let them fly on past you. No, this doesn’t stop those passing on the right and the shoulders; it just puts you in the best spot on a roadway of bad ones.
- Do not be distracted. Know what’s going on all around you. As a rule, very few people use their mirrors frequently enough. Moitruongvietnam becomes a habit, and as we age, those habits get entrenched. An old friend of mine was a top Canadian race car driver. When I drive with him, I’m always amazed that he knows the position and speed of every car around him — ahead, beside, behind. He has spidey-senses for what people are going to do, and that is his gift; he’s long retired but his skill as a driver is unmatched. I can only try to imitate his awareness, but being cognitive of their surroundings is the only thing that has kept any species alive, ever.
- Run away. Don’t engage. You don’t want to be anywhere near a loose cannon, nor do you want to give them a piece of your mind or a driving lesson. Get out of their way however you can. Any jerk with cash, a good credit rating or an indulgent parent can pilot an explosively powerful car, but that doesn’t mean they have any clue how to handle it. If you’ve profiled one of these pretenders on the road with you, you can’t change their actions, only your own. Resist the temptation to stand your ground. Take an exit if you have to; your nerves are worth a slight delay, your life even more.
- Call it in. In Ontario, it’s *OPP, the rest of Canada it’s 911. If you’re actively avoiding another driver, have a passenger call in a description, or exit and do so. Note your location and speed if you can. Other cars will be calling, but if you want these creeps off your highways, gang up on them.
- Consider getting a dashcam. When horrific crashes like the Mississauga one occurs, police always want to know what was going on before it happened. , or who you’ll help take off the road before they kill someone.
- Talk to your kids. The showboats are often younger males (, , , , oh hell, . It’s why their insurance rates are so high). Make sure your kids know how to get out of a car being driven dangerously, whether it’s an excuse or a delaying tactic. If you’re the passenger of a dangerous or erratic driver and they won’t let you out, call 911 yourself. Or text a friend your location and have them call police. Don’t be a passive participant in a deadly game.
Much of what happens on our roadways is about chance. That Corvette cut off a lot of people who lived to talk about it. We are driving powerful machines that can save a life or cause a death in an instant. We need police to get rid of the reckless drivers, but we also have to be constantly, critically aware of what’s happening as we drive.
I will get letters now asking why manufacturers have to make cars that go faster than speed limits, and I will explain that cars are not guns. Millions of us use cars every day, safely and for their intended use: to take us where we need to go. They become weapons in the hands of the reckless, and a car that can only go 100 km/h can still go 100 km/h in a school zone. It’s the behaviour, not the vehicle.