Steve Wallace: Reader roundup: Lights, lines and EVs

Readers of this column are smart. Here are some of their replies to recent columns.

Karla took issue with my suggestion that more people would likely pay attention to traffic lights if they included advertising on the light standard. She thinks it would be another distraction, rather than an additional reason to pay more attention to the changing cycle. She is probably right.

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Jill had a very demanding question of authorities who decided to replace standard reflective roadway line paint with a lesser-quality but more environmentally friendly option: “Is the safety of residents not more important that the slight, if any, benefit of this so-called Earth-friendly paint?” This is a valid question. Why do the burned-off lines become more evident in the rain than the new lines, which are so difficult to see? Her next question was more telling. Could the various government jurisdictions be held legally liable in a court proceeding? Something for the authorities to be mindful of.

Cher is consistently ambushed in a traffic circle by other vehicles entering the three-option circle. They do not yield! Being on the major road does not give them the first position at a regularly signed circle, but it could be so only if traffic signs designate the right of way.

John has some thoughtful suggestions to keep traffic moving. He has timed the pedestrian-controlled mid-intersection crosswalks. They seem to stay solid red for an inordinately long time, allowing pedestrians to clear the intersection. This increases environmentally harmful idling. There could be a cancel button activated by a pedestrian once clear of the intersection. His second suggestion involves using a red flashing light, which would, after a decent interval, cycle back to a solid amber and green light. Drivers could then proceed on the flashing red when pedestrians clear.

Gail had a question about the viability of electric vehicles. With gas prices going through the roof, is it time to consider the option?

The key obstacle has been range anxiety. This is becoming less so now that there are electrics that can get well over 250 kilometres on a single charge, at a relatively competitive price, as compared with gas-powered vehicles. There are also ridiculously expensive electric models getting well over 400 kilometres on a single charge. They make environmental sense, but little in the way of economic sense for the average driver.

Many families are purchasing an affordable electric and keeping the gas-powered vehicle for unexpected long-range travel. Others are looking at buying a vehicle that runs for about 40 to 50 kilometres on electric power and then switches to hybrid mode. Things are happening so fast in the advancement of these options that many people are seriously considering a new technology purchase.

Many of us in the driving-school business are watching the taxi industry very closely. When they go electric or any other combination of new technology in transportation, we will likely follow.

I have yet to talk to any electric-vehicle owners who are dissatisfied with a recent purchase. The technology seems solid.

Where do traffic fines go? Before the early 2000s, the fines accrued to the general revenue account of the provincial government. B.C. municipalities then were given the revenues that were levied in their respective boundaries. This was quite a financial shot in the arm. It has been the norm for about 15 years. The present minister responsible is hinting at a selective reassigning of certain traffic-fine revenue that would normally accrue to municipalities. Stay tuned!

Steve Wallace is the owner of Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island. He is a former vice-president of the Driving Schools Association of the Americas, a registered B.C. teacher and a University of Manitoba graduate.

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