Monday, July 21, 2008

Right of Way in Regina

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Here, I must stand up for my home town, Regina, Saskatchewan.

I assert (though I haven't driven in Bangkok) that Regina, and not some other place, has the stupidest drivers in the world.

Drivers here are so dumb, they are unaware of the first rule of the road which is "Avoid Running Into Things." Did you know that any object in front of you always has The Right Of Way? Think about it: Brick walls, concrete abutments, Mac Trucks, Fiats, even people. Regina also has an extraordinarily large number of traffic control devices and it is always getting more.

(Regina drivers are very good with pedestrians. They will slam on the brakes and may even cause an accident to avoid a jay-walker. In Los Angeles, on the other hand, people are excellent drivers, but pedestrians there are likely to be arrested for unusual and suspicious behaviour.)

In Regina, drivers will run into you if they "have the right of way." They will not lift their foot off the gas pedal to slow down slightly to avoid a collision. They will certainly never move their foot to the pedal to the left of the gas pedal.

They might step on the gas to punish you for daring to infringe on their "rights". Yes, indeed. Drivers have "rights" here in Regina and they aggressively defend them.

One day at noon, the power went out where I was. (College Ave. and Albert St.) The power almost never goes out in Regina. This was very unusual. All the traffic lights went dead on Albert Street all the way south for 3 miles. I expected chaos.

What will they do, I wondered? These people often don't know what to do at a four-way-stop. Can't they count to one and take turns? But I was completely amazed. Everyone does know how to drive! They were courteous. They were considerate. They shared the roadway. They yielded the right of way. They were NOT AGGRESSIVE. What happened?

Drivers stopped being "guided by the signs" and started seeing and thinking. The lights switched off and their brains switched on.

In Britain there are areas such as fashionable Kensington High Street in London, Prince Charles’s village of Poundbury, and a few others where they have removed traffic controls: “The intention is to create environments in which everyone is more focused, more cautious, and more considerate.”[1]

Then the power came on and everyone started driving as they always do. They WILL run into you if they "have the right of way." I see 4 or 5 moving violations every time I go anywhere in Regina. They do kill people here.

The cops? Sure, like all those signs and lights and cameras they’re a big help! The cops have RADAR and computers and poleece interceptors and guns.


Does it matter, really? Yep, it really matters.

On the highways around Regina, there are many level crossings. It is dead flat here. The roads are as straight as arrows. You can see for miles. It is never foggy and only rarely do winter blizzards obscure a driver's vision. During a white-out, drivers are very careful, or they stay home. Yet collisions at intersections are not uncommon. When a semi hits a car crossing the highway, the car is destroyed and its passengers are killed. Could the parties involved not see? Why not? Were their brains switched off? These are classified as "accidents".

When a train hits a motor vehicle, the train always has the right of way because the train cannot stop, yet railroads have always taken steps to avoid collisions. A few drivers ignore the precautions. Are their brains switched off?

In the City, it is not uncommon for someone to cruise through a red light and hit someone crossing in front. I knew twin sisters who were whacked while turning left on an advance green arrow. The driver who killed them was driving his 4x4 while under the influence. He ran a red light. He was going pretty fast. The City installed a camera at the intersection to give a ticket to people who run a red light. The twins' killer is still driving. The incident was deemed to be an "accident."

We know a priori that whatever you hit was there before you got there. It had the "right of way", not you. Anyone who is in an intersection has the right to proceed through the intersection without being killed. It's right there in the Act. We know by skid marks whether or not any effort was made to slam on the brakes to avoid a collision. There were no skid marks where the Evans twins were killed.

It isn't just the drivers here whose brains are switched off.

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