Road habits are dangerous


Around St. Albert and Edmonton the interaction of motor vehicle drivers with one another, bicyclists, and pedestrians is becoming increasingly a high-risk game of chance with good odds of death or grievous bodily injury. The following are observations from two days this past week – not things I have read or heard about, but personally saw.

At the Campbell Road entrance to the Henday on Monday, a driver in the left-hand lane cut abruptly across two lanes in one plunging dash, without signalling, to get into the right-hand on-ramp and head west on the freeway. There were several other vehicles close behind. Risky. Very.

I was driving in downtown Edmonton on Tuesday entering an intersection to turn left. The pedestrian light on the far side post was flashing an orange hand. That is not an invitation for someone on foot to start running across the street, which is what one fellow did. Luckily my peripheral vision is good because I saw him as he darted into my projected path. He afforded me a courteous wave as I stopped.

Later that night on the Yellowhead, I was in the next to right-hand lane, and decided to change over into it. I could see another vehicle perhaps 100 metres back. As I signalled my intention to shift right the other car flashed several lights. All were white, so evidently this was not a police vehicle. Perhaps luckily I decided to stay in my lane, for the driver behind me closed the gap startlingly fast. The car zoomed past on my right at about 30 to 40 km/h hour over what I was going, and well in excess of the 70 km/h speed limit. The racing vehicle carried on up the highway and went out of sight under the trail overpass a ways ahead.

Ten or 15 minutes later I was driving along Hebert Road in St. Albert, through a segment where the lighting was poor. My headlights began to pick out what seemed to be a moving object on the road ahead of me. I slowed as I approached. Just as well because it turned out to be a person dressed completely in dark clothing, riding a bicycle utterly without any reflective gear or lighting. I edged past and continued up the road. The stealth bicyclist caught up with me a bit later at a stoplight so I was able to confirm my earlier observation.

I don’t know whether personal traffic behaviour has actually deteriorated over the past decades, but the increasing population and perhaps rising per capita vehicle ownership is undoubtedly bringing out more occasions of bad practices. Doubtless readers could offer many instances of the sort of thing I set out above, or other risky practices. Except for speeding, none of what I have described is the target of the cash lucrative photo-radar system, and police cars seem seldom to cruise the roads watching traffic.

Writer David Haas is a long term St. Albert resident.


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