Steve Wallace: Time to check that rear lights are working

Readers have raised several important issues in the past few weeks.

The $200, on average, that seniors must pay for an appointment with their doctor to assess their ability to drive is now an election issue.

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At the time of writing, at least one political party is promising to cancel this charge. Readers Marie and Jill were the first to inform me of this change proposed by an Island candidate. This proposal may prompt a response from the two other political parties, especially the governing party. Hopefully, this unfair and likely unconstitutional practice of gouging seniors will end soon. Seniors should be motivated to keep up the pressure.

Brad took issue with my suggestion that fines for not wearing a bike helmet be increased. He said bicycle crashes are more likely to cause spinal and neck injuries. Blunt-force trauma is also, according to him, more common than head injury.

He thinks kids should have to wear a helmet, but adults should be able to make their own decision. I would agree, but only if helmetless cyclists were responsible for their own hospital bills and treatment in collisions where they are deemed to be at fault. I like cyclists, and the fact that they are not in motor vehicles makes more room for those of us needing ours to make a living.

Ryan wants more attention to be paid to those driving with broken brake and/or taillights. This is the time of year, as daylight gets shorter and darkness starts to dominate, that we notice burned-out lights.

Many people use only their running lights during the day, and while front lights help to attract attention, the rear lights are not illuminated. Driving with both front and back lights on makes others think you are closer, making unsafe maneuvers of other drivers less likely because of that illusion of proximity.

Now is the time of year when drivers of older-model vehicles must double check to make sure all lights are working, and others can see them clearly. Newer vehicles send drivers an immediate warning of burned-out lights.

Ted reminded me that I did not mention in a previous column the two most dangerous places to pass. Hills and curves present visibility problems. Some irresponsible drivers choose to pass on two-lane roads in these two very dubious locations. It is always prudent to allow for an escape to the right and to reduce speed dramatically when threatened by an oncoming driver taking an unnecessary risk.

Brian has a problem with the closing of Vancouver Street as a through road in Victoria. This will put thousands of vehicles in a position of finding a new route north and south, probably Quadra or Cook. The traffic lights are not synchronized on either route.

He claims the city is adding to the very pollution it intends to reduce by adding bike lanes to Vancouver Street. Idling automobiles at intersections and drivers having to make three new alternate-route turns, with stops, is counterproductive, both environmentally and economically, he says, writing: “The city is planning further travel mayhem on Richardson Street, where up to 3,000 motor vehicles will be diverted to make a few hundred marginally competent cyclists cosy.”

This is language that may inflame the situation, but the reality is a much greater volume of traffic on Fairfield Avenue. Oak Bay will not continue this Richardson practice as the street enters its city. Who knew! Sanity lives beyond the “Tweed Curtain.”

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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