Top two dangerous driving manoeuvers

The most dangerous driving manoeuvres are tasks drivers perform every day. The passing of another vehicle on a two-lane road, at high speed, puts your vehicle in the opposing lane. Think about that for a moment.

You put your car in a lane reserved for oncoming traffic.

The head-on collision is among the most damaging to vehicles and occupants. Passing on the highway must be done in a safe manner.

Check ahead to see if there is ample space to pass. Look behind, both in the rear and side mirrors and then, before pulling out, check the blind spot on the side where you will pass. Accelerate smoothly and pass in as short a time as is safe to do so.

Before you return to your lane, glance in your rear-view mirror to see the entire front of the vehicle you have passed. Signal and check the blind spot on the passed side, moving back into your lane and resuming speed.

Always be mindful that drivers may subconsciously speed up while they are being passed. This is called the “magnet effect,” which causes untold frustration for passing drivers. We live in a competitive society and people simply do not like being passed. Unless a driver is on cruise control or a seasoned professional, it highly likely, whether consciously or subconsciously, the average driver will speed up when being passed.

As drivers we all have to make an allowance for such a predictable but illogical behaviour. When being passed, it is best to maintain speed and do what is expected. Speeding up or slowing down while being passed causes conflict on our highways. Sometimes a gentle brake is needed to help a driver who has misjudged the passing distance.

Many provinces have constructed divided highways to eliminate the head-on collision threat, but in many rural areas, the high-speed pass remains the most dangerous driving manoeuvre.

The left turn facing on-coming traffic is another dangerous task. Many cities across Canada have one-way streets to avoid this dangerous action. Always pull to the middle of the intersection on a green light to set up the left turn. As many vehicles as will fit in the intersection are permitted to enter and wait for a safe left-turn opportunity. Never turn your wheels when waiting for oncoming traffic to clear. If your wheels are turned and you are hit from behind, which is the most common crash, your car will move directly into the path of the very head-on traffic you are waiting for at the intersection. If the light turns yellow while you are in the middle of the intersection, always remember you have the right of way to clear the intersection when oncoming traffic has stopped and it is clear to proceed. Your duty is to clear the intersection. Check your blind spot before your turn and be sure to check both sides for vehicles and pedestrians. Pedestrians are hit at intersections more than any other location in our traffic system. Non-drivers — especially children — are probably not aware of the challenges facing drivers.

Bicycle lanes also present a new challenge for drivers. The two most dangerous places to drive on our roads are highways and at intersections. Statistics show that roughly 35 per cent of fatal crashes happen on the highway and 55 per cent happen at intersections. Each year in B.C. on average, one person is killed every day in a vehicle crash.

Pay particular attention to both these high crash areas to avoid drivers’ most dangerous manoeuvres.

Steve Wallace is a longtime teacher and owns the Wallace Driving School in Victoria.

Photograph by: Troy Fleece, Leader-Post