Not the worst driver ever, but close

Driving  to work this morning, I came to a crosswalk with a red light, so I stopped.  Most crosswalks here use stop lights that point in two directions along the road being crossed (as opposed to regular stop lights that point in four or more directions).  These lights flash green until a pedestrian presses a button, whereupon they go red for a minute or so.  Drivers must obey these signals exactly as if they were regular stop lights.

I didn’t see a pedestrian, which means they probably already crossed before I got there.  Anyway, when I stopped, there was a car stopped opposite me, in the oncoming lane.  This car was signaling for a right turn.  The crosswalk in question is – like so many others – at an intersection of a minor cross street.  Access to the main road from the cross street is controlled by stop signs.  There has always been some ambiguity regarding whether it’s okay to turn right at a crosswalk that’s currently RED if doing so causes your car to pass through the crosswalk, so I just assumed that the driver wasn’t sure and was waiting for the light to go back to flashing green before turning.

As I waited for the light to go back to flashing green, in the car opposite me, the driver looked up from whatever they had been doing, and without waiting for the light to go green, drove straight through the crosswalk – while still signaling for a right turn.  The car behind them pulled forward and stopped, and its driver and I exchanged a puzzled look.

For those of you playing at home: how many mistakes were made by the first driver opposite me, and what were they?

Not the worst driver ever, but close Read More »

A senseless death

Last week a member of my extended family was hit by a car while driving his motorcycle. He sustained serious injuries to one leg and several ribs. His prognosis was good, but died a few days later. The person in the car that hit him had been drinking, and ran the light in the intersection where this occurred. The light was red. This driver of the car has taken full responsibility.

Now, I’m not saying it’s okay to drive when you’ve been drinking. Or that it’s okay to run a red light. But most people hearing this story would focus on one or both of those things as being the causes of this tragedy. I disagree. The cause was lack of attention. If you read this blog long enough, you’ll find that this is a running theme. In fact, I feel so strongly about it that I believe we could get rid of most driving-related offenses, keeping only two: dangerous driving and careless driving. Because when you really look at it, these are the root causes of all motor vehicle accidents.

Take the driver of the car in this case. Drinking tends to dull one’s senses, so she was at a disadvantage right away. However, I maintain that if she had recognized her disability, she could have compensated by driving with extreme care and focus. And even if, by some stretch of the imagination, she still felt that she needed to run a red light when she knew she was impaired, if she had at least paid proper attention while approaching and moving through the intersection, she could have easily avoided the accident. You may insist that without knowing the details this is purely speculation, but put yourself in her place and go through it. Leaving aside her poor decisions, if she had at least been paying due attention, two lives (and possibly more) would not have been destroyed.

A senseless death Read More »