The RCMP’s advanced driver training course was without a doubt the most fun of any course many of the participants had taken in their service. We used an inactive runway at the Boundary Bay airport in Delta and a collection of well used Crown Victoria police interceptors to polish our driving skills. Contrary to what you might think, this was not a high-speed driving situation as we never got going faster than about 65 km/h.
What the majority of the course taught us was to be aware of the location of all four corners of our vehicles in relation to everything around us on the track.
From stall parking, backing through a slalom to the collection of curves, straights and sharp angles of the circuit, the object was to never touch one of the traffic cones that marked the edges and obstacles. Knock one over and you could lose so many points that your score would not be enough to pass.
In the circuit, we were expected to drive as fast as we were able to in addition to leaving all the cones alone. We also learned that if you spun your tires after receiving the “go” signal, you lost valuable time.
The road that leads to my home is a winding one and there are two sets of reversing curves where I seem to be meeting more drivers on the wrong side of the double solid center line lately. The worn condition of the center and shoulder lines at these corners indicate that this occurs frequently.
Surprisingly, our provincial driving manuals don’t have a lot to say about maintaining your lane position. The one piece of advice that I could find says:
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.
They do have more to say about another spot where lane discipline commonly breaks down, turning at intersections. Drivers are cautioned not to cut the corner or swing wide on turns.
The last bad habit to mention is driving with the right side tires to the right of the single solid line. In other words, driving on the shoulder. Along with all of the other behaviours mentioned, this is illegal.
One might think that if there are no lines painted on the road, it is not necessary to maintain proper lane position. This is not true either. A driver in this situation must still judge where the center of the road is and travel in the right-hand half.
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 of 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.