Police have had all they can eat of bad drivers

Too many cars on the road still being steered by distracted people behind the wheel

Police are keeping an eye on the roads for drivers engaging in risky or stupid behaviour.

There was the time Darrin Ramey spotted a man drinking tea behind the wheel.

No, not the steeped tea from Tim Horton’s, all neatly packaged for your driving pleasure in a handy-dandy spill-proof cup.

We’re talking a Royal Albert cup-and-saucer pinkie-extended-while-making-Queen-Liz-proud hot cuppa — with all the spillage hazards that implies — as the guy drove through the busy streets of North Vancouver.

Of course that wasn’t quite as gobsmacking as the fellow he once saw negotiating urban intersections while plunging his knife and fork into a heaping plateful of mamma’s best spaghetti and meatballs.

Drivers, you do some dumb things out there on the road and nearly all of them involve thinking that steering a 3,000-pound clump of chrome and steel at 100 kilometres an hour somehow doesn’t deserve your full attention.

Ramey, an RCMP sergeant and commanding officer of the Central Island Highway Patrol can chuckle at the funny stories along with the rest us, but he still issues a pointed reminder that bad driving is not a laughing matter.

“Driving is one of the most dangerous things people do,” Ramey said. “Any time you’re doing anything other than not concentrating on driving — at some point you’ve got to draw a line.”

Nearly 35,000 crashes were reported by ICBC on Vancouver Island in 2013.

In three of those crashes someone died because someone was driving too fast for conditions. Another 19 people were killed due to high-risk behaviour such as following too close or failing to yield. Ten more died because of distracted driving and 13 more from speeding.

“Most drivers are good drivers. Most of the time we see good behaviour,” Ramey said. “Bad drivers are the ones who cause the mayhem. If you’ve ever been to a scene where there are people in pain, you want to do something.”

ICBC and the RCMP continue to focus their awareness programs on the unholy trio of risky driving behaviours: speeding, texting, and driving while impaired.

But there are plenty of other mistakes that get made on a frequent basis.

Two of the things that pop up regularly include passing on the shoulder to the right of someone making a left-hand turn, and stopping to wave a jaywalker through. In the latter instance, Ramey said you may think you are just being courteous, but you’re not.

“When you start breaking the rules and other people are following the rules, that’s when things collide.”

Another common failing is that not nearly enough people consistently use their signal lights, or shoulder check while changing lanes. In all the above cases, you are creating or dealing with blind spots.

“Always be looking out for another road users,” ICBC road safety co-ordinator Colleen Woodger said. “They are extremely vulnerable.”

“I ride motorcycles and that makes me a much better car driver,” Ramey said. “Even if you are in the right, you are going to lose every single argument.”

Eating behind the wheel is not an offence, although extremes like the plate of spaghetti could get you a ticket for driving without due care and attention, a catch-all category for many poor habits.

Woodger suggests drivers should put distractions like cell phones out of reach so they aren’t tempted. Frequently “one quick look” can turn into several.

“They think ‘I’m kinda expecting this text’ and they look down,” said Ramey. “You can travel a long distance in three seconds.”

Finally, Woodger said don’t forget to leave early.

“Our biggest message is to slow down and give yourself enough travel time,” she said. “Driving takes your full attention.”

Follow me on Twitter @JohnMcKinleyBP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RDN says water in French Creek still potable despite levels of iron, manganese

Strategy to improve water quality being established

COVID-19: City of Parksville to open offices on June 1

Health and safety restrictions will be in place

Program at Parksville’s McMillan Arts Centre offers chance to connect art, environmentalism

MAC program works to create community arts installation in city

RDN Transit to see rollout of 15 new HandyDart buses

Buses will have temporary protective barriers installed to prevent spread of COVID-19

Questions remain as summer tourism approaches in Parksville Qualicum Beach

COVID-19: Association hopes residents continue to support local businesses

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

COVID-19: B.C. too dependent on foreign food production workers

New B.C. job site links unemployed with farm, seafood work

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

RCMP remind public to leave dogs chilling at home on hot days

Dogsafe has designed a Dog in a Hot Car Responder Checklist

Another Asian giant ‘murder hornet’ found in Lower Mainland

This is the farthest east the invasive species has been found so far

B.C. girl left temporarily paralyzed by tick bite sparks warning from family

Mom says parents need to check their kids when they go camping

PHOTOS: Loved ones reunite at an oasis on closed U.S.-Canada border in Surrey

Officials closed the park in mid-March over coronavirus concerns

Feds delay national action plan for missing and murdered Indigenous women

Meanwhile, the pandemic has exacerbated the violence facing many Indigenous women and girls

Most Read