Steve Wallace: Backing into parking spots, burned-out lights, right-hand drive

David pulled into a mall parking space and proceeded to advance through to avoid backing when leaving, only to be chastised by another driver who thought the practice was inappropriate.

The opposite is true. Using reverse gear sparingly is probably one of the best ways to avoid a crash.

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Pedestrians walk behind parked motor vehicles on most mall parking lots. Backing in, or as David did, driving through, is a safe and accepted way to avoid conflict with vulnerable pedestrian traffic.

Next time you go to a police, ambulance or firehall parking lot, look at the configuration of the vehicles. They are all backed in or driven through.

These are the very people who attend fatal and physically destructive vehicle crashes every day in our province. They know first-hand why avoiding reverse gear is a good idea. We should all take advantage of their professionalism and act accordingly.

By the way, the driver who was impolite toward David was in the wrong. “The wanter waits” universal rule of the road applies.

David was in the pull-through space. The other person may have wanted it, but the wanter waits!

Grant wants to know why he sees so many motor vehicles with taillights and headlights burned out. When he alerts the drivers to the situation, they seem less than concerned.

As the days get longer, police enforcement is often directed to more offensive behavior, such as the life-threatening activities of irresponsible drivers.

Newer vehicles all have interior warning lights identifying any burned-out lights. The myth of 24 hours to correct the problem persists today. No such time frame is mandated, except at the police officer’s discretion.

Bev gets tripped up by the driver’s position behind the wheel of right-hand-drive vehicles. When Bev tries to get eye-to-eye contact with drivers of such vehicles, she finds herself looking into an empty space or at an inattentive passenger.

Right-hand-drive vehicles are more numerous on the West Coast. Some are collector cars from Commonwealth countries, while others are imports from Japan and other Asian countries.

I must admit to being as fooled as Bev in many traffic situations. Drivers of these vehicles must take extra caution, not only while leaving the curb but when attempting to pass on the highway. The addition of well-placed extra mirrors can be a great advantage for a right-hand-drive vehicle in a left-hand-drive world.

My experience with these types of vehicles goes back to the first of my five visits to Japan. I was on a private tour of an automobile factory an hour or so from Sapporo. There was a noticeable difference in the thickness of the steel used in two of the assembly lines, one being domestic and the other for export to North America.

When I asked why this was so, the V.P. of production had an interesting reply. The thinner steel was for the domestic line, while the heavier gauge was for the export market.

The lighter gauge was a reaction to the length of time the average Japanese driver kept a vehicle. Regulations and taxation at the time discouraged ownership past the five-year point.

Many left-hand-drive countries were the recipients of these vehicles. Snow and ice that requires salting of roads can accelerate the deterioration of the thinner steel construction. The 15-year export delay for these vehicles, in my opinion, makes them functional only in Victoria and Vancouver.

steve.d.wallace@outlook.com

Steve Wallace is the owner of Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island. He is a former V.P. of the Driving Schools Association of the Americas, a registered B.C. teacher and a U of Manitoba graduate.

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