Traffic IslandOne sure sign of growing up when we were young was the ability to use our crayons and colour between the lines. An important skill for a “grown-up” driver is also the ability to stay between the lines. Judging by the e-mails that I continually receive from readers who state that this is their main pet peeve, there is a sizable number of drivers out there who need to do a bit more skill improvement.

Staying centered in your lane is not difficult. Here’s a beginner’s tip from the Tuning Up Guide:

The first thing you may notice as you begin driving in moderate traffic is that you have to stay in the centre of your lane. To start with, this is no easy task. The magic rule: look the way you want to go. If you keep looking 12 seconds ahead down the centre of the lane, your peripheral vision will help you centre yourself.

If you haven’t been on the inside of a curve lately and met an oncoming driver part way over the center line into your lane, a quick look at the lines painted on the road will tell you that many tires have passed over the paint and worn it away.

It shouldn’t matter if you cross over the lines when no one is coming should it? Well, it’s both illegal in that situation and will end up in a collision the first time you fail to see the oncoming vehicle. It will be really interesting if that driver is doing the same thing!

Perhaps more common still is the encroachment onto the shoulder when drivers go around a corner. This territory is the domain of pedestrians and cyclists, your vehicle does not belong there. It’s hardly likely that you would be injured or killed in a collision here but the same cannot be said for the unprotected shoulder users.

Should vehicles have to become smarter than their drivers? Your next new vehicle may have lane keeping assist to help you stay where you are supposed to be.

One side effect of this safety feature will be enforcement of signalling lane changes. If you fail to signal your lane change, the system will see this as a drift to one side and will take action to alert you.

Here in Canada, winter snow hides the lines on the road. Unless it is unsafe to do, your guide is the tire tracks left by the vehicles that have already been driven there.

So, show a little pride in your ability to be a mature, skillful driver. Keep your vehicle inside that 3.6 meter wide space between the lines. This will also show your respect for other road users and help to keep them safe. If you cannot, it’s time to put your crayons back in the box and let someone else do the driving.

References:

Cst. Tim Schewe (Ret.) runs DriveSmartBC, a community web site about traffic safety in British Columbia. For 25 years he was an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, including five years on general duty, 20 in traffic and 10 as a collision analyst responsible for conducting technical investigations of collisions. He retired from policing in 2006 but continues to be active in traffic safety through the DriveSmartBC web site, teaching seminars and contributing content to newspapers and web sites.

www.drivesmartbc.ca

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