Car accidents are nothing new, but it seems drivers are getting worse. (Black Press Media)

COLUMN: Drivers are just getting worse

The advent of self driving cars can’t come fast enough

The other day I took a ride with friend whose car is equipped with one of those fancy lane-departure warning systems. That’s the gizmo that sounds a warning and steers your car back into its lane if you, say, cross the center line and travel into oncoming traffic.

During the course of a five minute drive, the system engaged four times.

My friend, an otherwise responsible and intelligent sort of fellow, seemed unfazed.

The experience left me puzzled.

I started looking into some of the research about driving and was surprised to learn that, according to a recent poll, most Canadian drivers rate themselves as having above average skills – about 92 per cent.

Even a rudimentary understanding of math tells you that a lot of those people are suffering from what psychologists call illusory superiority.

On a brighter note, in BC, only about three quarters of drivers feel that they are above average drivers.

The math is still problematic.

The truth is that there are a whole lot of folks out there who are kidding themselves about their driving skill.

I see it every day as I drive around Greater Victoria.

I’m not sure why an inordinate number of drivers tailgate, for example.

Perhaps they feel that Newton’s first law of motion doesn’t apply to their Dodge Ram pickup or maybe they’ve watched too many insipid super hero movies and now believe that their own reflexes will allow them to stop instantaneously should the car in front of them hit the brakes.

In either case, the fact that on Vancouver Island there is about one accident a minute should be enough to tell them that, just maybe, they should back the heck off.

But they don’t.

I recently read an opinion piece from a well known commentator who bemoaned the fact that drivers today tend to stray into other lanes, even crossing the solid middle line at times. This fellow, based in California, could just as easily have been talking about Greater Victoria where, it seems, lane markers have become suggestions rather than firm delineations of where you can drive.

The popular wisdom is that this lane straying behaviour is the result of cellphones and distracted driving. That may be true in part, but let’s not just blame cellphones.

I’ve seen folks driving with a coffee cup in one hand and a doughnut in the other while a Pomeranian sits on their lap.And then there are roundabouts.

Today’s drivers can’t seem to master a traffic device that two convertible driving antagonists in gorilla suits managed in that Pink Panther movie. Nearly every morning I see drivers approaching roundabouts with the same expression you’d expect from a goat staring at a new fence.

Sigh.

There’s a story out there about how the first auto accident in North America occurred in Ohio in 1895. The story goes that there were only two cars in town and they somehow managed to run into one another.

RELATED: Hydro gives tips on how not to run into poles

Now that’s probably an urban legend, but somehow it rings true. Some people just can’t drive.

That’s why the advent of self driving cars can’t come fast enough as far as I’m concerned.

When they arrive, we might think about laws that would force everyone caught doing something stupid behind the wheel into one of those mechanical wonders.

I could be wrong, but I figure that within a year I might be the only human driver left in Victoria.

I am, after all, a better than average driver.

•••

Tim Collins is a Sooke News Mirror reporter.



tim.collins@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

ColumnDrivingSooke

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep Saanich drainage pipe

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Police respond to successful Facebook scam on Oak Bay resident

Petty thievery in King George Terrace where plants, gargoyle are missing

Owner of Langford construction company gets nine months for sexual assault

Kyle Mostowy already spent time in prison for sexually assaulting employees

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Suspicious fire quenched before reaching gunpowder in Nanaimo’s historic Bastion

Probe underway in basement blaze that erupted near where powder stored to fire signature cannons

Duncan model makes quarter finals in ‘Maxim’ magazine contest

Brandee Peart among top one per cent left in competition

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Fisherman snags barracuda off Vancouver Island in rare encounter

Ferocious fish, not native to Canada, was netted and released in Alberni Inlet

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

Most Read