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

Just Posted

Tofino mourns sudden loss of municipal councillor and community champion

Longtime resident Dorothy Baert died on Wednesday.

Short documentary showcases Chez Monique’s on Canada’s West Coast Trail

“The story we are trying to share is of the loving haven they created and sustained for decades.”

Confirmed case of Parvovirus could spread through Tofino-Ucluelet puppy population

“We need to keep this contained and the animals within communities need to stay at home.”

Construction continues on Pacific Rim National Park Reserve’s $51M trail

Path through Park Reserve will link Tofino and Ucluelet.

Tofino graduate credits family and community after receiving $40K scholarship

“I would not be here and I would not be the person I am without my community.”

Feds lowered poverty line, reducing the number of seniors in need: documents

Liberals introduced a poverty line that was below the prior low-income cutoff

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs have been sold

Victoria company has purchased BCHL team, but will keep it in Port Alberni

“Does Kirby care?” B.C. First Nation’s group using geo-targeted ads in Houston, Texas for justice

The Heiltsuk Tribal Council has called out Kirby Corporation for the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill

Trudeau announces $79M investment for 118 more public transit buses across B.C.

Contributions from municipal to federal level to fund more buses in a bid to cut commutes

B.C. woman wins record $2.1 million on casino slot machine

‘That night was so surreal … I wasn’t able to sleep or eat for the first two days,’ she said

After B.C. dad’s death, Technical Safety BC wants changes to trampoline park rules

Jay Greenwood, 46, did ‘a series of acrobatic manoeuvres prior to a fall that caused serious injury and cardiac arrest’

Cars keyed on BC Ferries after alarms bother dog on board

Delta police arrested one passenger on suspicion of mischief

$900M settlement reached in class action on sexual misconduct in Canadian military

After facing criticism, the government moved to begin settlement proceedings in early 2018

Most Read