I am really upset. Twice in less than a week I have witnessed a traffic incident which has frightened the living daylights out of me, and in both instances a senior was at the wheel of the offending vehicle.
A phrase I learned at motorcycle training school was “Ride as if every vehicle on the road is out to kill you.” I have ridden with that thought in mind for nearly half a million kms and I am still around to write about it.
My two incidents:
The first was absolutely incredible. The short description is I was on my bike stopped at a traffic light waiting to make a left turn. Red light for my traffic, and a car came up behind me and veered over into the oncoming lanes of traffic as if they were OK to drive there. The driver cut over to the extreme left of the oncoming lanes, signalling a left turn, and moving over further into the lane nearest the oncoming traffic which had a green light. Traffic in all directions stopped for this moronic driver, maybe all of us awed in shock at the outlandish stupidity of this driving. The car then moved into middle of the intersection, looking like the driver was hunting for a lane. Nobody else was moving for this vehicular traffic performance had everyone in visual vicinity absolutely mesmerized. Finally, someone on foot came to the poor driver’s door and hand-signalled for the driver to get into a safe and proper lane of traffic, abiding by the rules of the road. No mishap occurred but this was likely because no one was moving, awestruck by what they saw happening in a busy multi-lane traffic intersection.
Incident two saw me riding along on the curb side lane of a two lane roadway. Light traffic, moderate speed at about 65 kph. As I rode, I sensed a car on my left creeping into my lane. I immediately backed off, allowing the moron full possession of whatever lane they wanted to take over. But the driver did not want my lane, simply reverting back to his/her own lane. It had simply been a bit of “lane drift.” A lot of lane drift. As I pulled up along side the car, I saw it was a very old lady who was totally oblivious of what had transpired, of what she had done, nearly pushing me out of my lane and off the road.
I have ranted enough about morons who are driving and using electronic devices as they do so. I have seen this too many times. The penalties for distracted driving are too light. These morons should be removed from the road for a period of time to teach them that they are a danger to other drivers, to motorcyclists especially, and to themselves. Fining them is not enough. Neither is demerit point penalization. These are stupid people who are a mortal danger on the road. They are licensed killers and they scare the living hell out of me.
The government is doing next to nothing about them, merely slapping them on the wrist with fines of a few hundred dollars and/or loss of a couple of demerit points. How about a jail sentence of a couple of weeks? How about a $5000 dollar fine? How about license suspension for a period of time? How about confiscation and impounding of their vehicle for a period of time? These drivers ignore rules, ignore the penalties, and taunt the police who have their hands full with enforcing and monitoring other traffic offenses.
Senior drivers are doubly at fault. Anyone who uses a device while driving is an absolute moron but statistics show that seniors are the second most problematic group of drivers, next to males under 25! Seniors are the second largest group involved in fatal driving fatalities. The most dangerous group are young males under 25, but then ‘they are immortal, can do no wrong, and have no law that apply to them,’ in their eyes. But what is wrong with the seniors?
Seniors want to keep their independence. They want to drive forever. Sadly, there is a point when each of us can no longer drive a vehicle with assurance, properly and safely. Acknowledging that point is very difficult because it is acknowledging another thing which we can no longer do because of aging and each of us is struggling to keep on doing things which we readily and easily did years ago. So how does one accept that inevitable day? I don’t know. I am sure I will fight that moment when my time comes. Be that as it may, it is inevitable and the driver who is a danger on the road, must be taken off the road, no matter how crushing this blow can be to that person. Taken off the road by a courageous doctor, by a family member who cares, or by objective and neutral government legislation.
Just look at the statistical data below which shows the driver groups who are the most dangerous: under 25 yr old males and senior males:
I don’t know what the answer is to these problems of distracted and poor driving. There is no easy answer. However, not doing anything about the problem means we are allowing death to freely roll along the highways. In that regard, we are all doubly at fault.