Put our driving skills to the test

September 4, 2011

I was cut-off again in traffic. A truck pulled out of a gas station, right in front of me. I had to swerve to avoid rear-ending them. I pushed on my horn and braked quickly. I don’t think they even bothered to look before pulling out.

I drive a lot. My work requires that I travel to different communities. Since I like driving, especially highway driving, this is not a problem. However, the lack of skills by other drivers is a problem.

I have been driving for over 35 years. In one two year period, I put on 150,000 kilometres. That is a lot of driving!  I’ve driven big trucks, small trucks, cars, vans, moving vans, minivans, and even motorcycles.

I’ve driven right across Canada, from White Rock, B.C., to St. John’s, Newfoundland. I’ve driven across the northern States. I’ve driven across Florida. I’ve driven in Mexico. I’ve driven in Hawaii. I have crisscrossed through the Rocky Mountains numerous times. I have crisscrossed Alberta and B.C. many more times. I’ve ridden a motorcycle up the coast of B.C. to Alaska, then into Alaska via the Alaskan Highway.

Not many people drive as much as I do. Unless they are professional drivers, like truckers and taxis. Most people simply drive to and from work each day, and for everyday living needs. Many people forget the rules of the road as time goes by. Many drivers become complacent. This is when accidents occur.

Even though I have been driving for over 35 years, I have had only three accidents. Yet, in the past month alone, I have had a number of “near-misses.” My third accident happened just a few weeks ago. Only because the driver was not paying attention.

All the time that I spend on the road, avoiding other people’s mistakes, I have come up with a possible solution to bad driving. Perhaps we need a new requirement: when we renew our licenses every five years, we rewrite the written exam.

It would be far better to redo the road test, but there are not enough resources to do that. Since the written exam is now on the Internet, administering this same test for everyone would not require extra resources.

Professional drivers have to retest for their licenses on a regular basis. Yet, the average Canadian can drive for 55+ years without ever taking another written exam or road test. The fact that we don’t get ticketed or don’t end up in accidents doesn’t prove we are good drivers. It just might be that there aren’t enough traffic police. Or, the other driver was able to avoid your error.

If we had to retest regularly, we would have to refresh our memory as to the rules of the road and other important details that help to keep the roads safe for everyone. And, just maybe, it will help us not to become complacent with our driving habits.

For details about the recent “near-misses” and the accident, see my blog titled, “Third time not so lucky.”

For another article written by me on this same topic, click on the following link: http://www.southpeacenews.com/newsdesk/volume48/101117/marthas_musings.html

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