Steve Wallace: Readers offer suggestions on road safety

More recent suggestions from readers: Ben wants to know why we cannot copy some South American countries, by painting school, play, speed and yield signs on the road. It seems to be very effective in warning drivers of various hazards.

The popular belief in North America is to have drivers look up for route selection and various other information. Climate is another reason for not doing dramatic informational road markings. Snow, ice and freezing rain would likely negate the effect. It is near-impossible to get governments to do reflective road-lane markings, let alone introduce additional logical requests. It would be worth trying a pilot project in a specified area to find out if the idea has merit in reducing crashes.

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Ben also wants very clear road marking to indicate the beginning and end of a school zone. He is suggesting a wide blue line at the beginning and end of the zone. At present, drivers must see the back of the schoolhouse shaped sign, on the opposite side of the road, indicating the end of a school zone. Why not? It seems like a good idea.

Ben suggests names on street signs should be much bigger, and asks if there is some sort of municipal standard that applies to their installation. Drivers often slow to a snail’s pace to see them more clearly when faced with small street signs. This, in turn, frustrates those behind, particularly those who are familiar with the road and know where they are going.

Municipalities are permitted to determine the size of the signs. Larger street signs for an aging population is a good idea.

Ben’s final suggestion is to copy the example of India, where they paint curbs in an intermittent black and white colour, to show where the road width ends. He thinks it will help distinguish the road surface from the pedestrian walkway on dark rainy nights.

Jim asked for clarification concerning passing on the right and turning right at an intersection, with no road markings. Drivers are permitted to pass on the right at an intersection, when held up by a driver attempting to turn left, given they do not leave the normal travelled portion of the road. They cannot use the unpaved shoulder to do so, or cross a solid white line.

They can also do the same when setting up for a right turn at an intersection. Again, they are not allowed to traverse solid white lines or use the unpaved shoulder of the road. It is not illegal to do this type of manoeuvre, but it can be unsafe if visibility is poor.

Dorothy wants to know why a Tim Hortons commercial shows a young teen learning to drive, holding his drink in one hand and driving away from the drive-through with the other hand on the wheel, and getting the look of approval from his dad in the passenger seat. Dorothy, you are not alone.

Trisha wants cameras at crosswalks. The most vulnerable people in our traffic system are pedestrians, who do not have any protective barrier when walking. Whenever there is an opportunity to have alternating yellow flashing lights at a crosswalk, drivers are more alert and react better to pedestrians crossing the road. Cameras would be an added incentive for drivers to be more alert at pedestrian crossings. The expense would have to be justified. A pilot program at dangerous crossings seems logical.

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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