This summer has brought on the hottest temperatures ever recorded in several areas of our province and nation. There are all sorts of goofy things happening on our roads this summer. Some are related to the heat. There is even a fancy name for it. A Heat Dome! This is probably meant to be an answer for the Polar Vortex we experienced in the recent winter season. Who said seasons could not be sensationalized? What does the Heat Dome have to do with driving?
Drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and others who are travelling in unusually hot weather tend to be short-tempered. Hot temperatures and hotheads behind the wheel do not make for a pleasant drive.
Rather than be overtly offended by the transgressions of other drivers, it is better to look upon the various situations as free entertainment. Now that things are returning to normal, in what will hopefully be the end of the pandemic, let us appreciate the effect of much higher volumes of traffic. Combine this with some odd behaviours of drivers, which have been observed in this recent heat wave, and we have a situation indeed. Here are three odd situations observed last week.
Pets should never be left in vehicles in hot weather. They should also be contained while travelling, for their own safety. A dog was observed leaning out the passenger side front seat open window, as a driver travelled in Victoria last week. No amount of criticism from others at various stop intervals was enough for the driver to alter behaviour for the dog’s safety. It reminded me of the cartoon caption in which the dog is thinking how bad humans smell and is seeking relief by sticking its head out the window.
A door ajar on any vehicle going down the highway would likely get noticed by other travellers. Last week several drivers tried to alert the driver to just this situation, only to discover a couch in the back seat. It was too big to fit properly within the vehicle. The driver had opened the door to the back seat and tied the door to the couch. The door was at least a foot or so overlapping the vehicle frame. Driver after driver behind the vehicle pulled alongside the traveller to warm him, only to see door jammer wave an acknowledgment of the moving-day reality.
A group of drivers were somewhat irate while waiting behind someone making a left turn onto a residential road from a two-lane arterial. As car after car stacked up behind the driver waiting for oncoming traffic to clear, horns blared in disapproval. Many drivers are unaware it is an offence to hold back several vehicles when making a left turn. Although it is not a hard and fast rule in every jurisdiction, more than three cars being impeded by this action may be an offense. There is also a stark reality for those drivers who leave the paved portion of the road to get around such an oblivious left turner. It is an offense to do so. If there is a solid white line separating the shoulder of the road from the travelled portion, it is an offense to cross it in order to get around the driver impeding others. Left turns are dangerous. Driving across an oncoming lane to make such a turn is not always necessary. Many drivers can alter and should alter their route to their destination and home to avoid this practice.
There is still a lot of summer and hot temperatures ahead. Traffic is increasing and returning to normal. We should all relax and enjoy the ride and the entertainment that comes along with it.
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.