The Fair-Weather Motorist

Spring is trying its best to make an appearance. Two days ago the temperature reached 16C and the sun was shining. Yesterday it rained, then it rained ice pellets, then it snowed. Today most of that snow has melted and by the end of the day if the sun remains out it will all be gone. There appears to be nothing easy about the changing of the seasons.

 

Other signs of spring can be found all around me. Water and mud are everywhere they shouldn’t be. Large craters are appearing in the roads as the ground frost releases its hold on the Earth and suddenly huge pockets of nothing are created and the road caves in. The highway heaves and buckles making for a rollercoaster effect as you drive from one place to another. The roads will eventually settle back down to a relatively normal flatness but not before doing some kind of damage to many vehicles that will pass over them.

 

Spring on the roadways in this area also means an increase in traffic. People that were hesitant to venture out on them in winter have found a new bravado and they are now out driving around without supervision. Once the snow leaves I find that normal daily traffic doubles on the Trans-Canada Highway making for situations that are more treacherous than driving in a blizzard. The farms are also starting up operations and large slow-moving farm vehicles appear on the highways as they move from one field to another. They move at half the posted speed limit and take up a lane and a half of space, so if they don’t move on to the road’s shoulder to allow you to pass, you must drive on to the shoulder to make that maneuver. All this vehicular movement is being done at 110kph or faster and makes for some truly hair-raising experiences.

 

When I am surrounded by experienced drivers avoiding potholes and farm tractors happen seamlessly and although it is being done at a high rate of speed it is done safely, but when the fair-weather driver is out on the highway there is nothing seamless about the way they go about things. It appears that a winter of leaving their cars in hibernation has made them forget how to operate them in a safe manner. They are reckless and ignore the safety features that are built right into their vehicles, things like mirrors to check for surrounding traffic and turn signal indicators that let others know of their intentions to do something stupid. It seems to me that they only remember 3 things about their cars, they know which pedal is the gas, which is the brake and how to turn the radio on. They have forgotten about every other feature that their expensive transport has to help them not become my new hood ornament.

 

Every spring I witness someone race past me at 120kph as they make their way to something they feel they must get to urgently. They hit a pothole that their inexperience and high speed made unavoidable and have a momentary loss of control and they do what they all do, they hit the brakes. What the hell are you doing you idiot??? You already hit the hole!!! Are you slowing down to admire the size of it?!! Once they have checked that their exhaust is not lying on the ground the speed up again, like this was a one-time event. Guess what idiot… There are three more potholes just ahead!!!

 

The other event I witness with all too much regularity is that same driver doing 120kph racing up behind a farm vehicle moving no faster than 40kph and for some unexplainable reason they wait until they are mere meters away before they slow down which means slamming on the brakes. They then swerve to the left and into the next lane or half lane- half shoulder and creep by the obstacle at 90kph, then accelerate to 140kph to make up for the delay. This lane change for them does not require the use of a turn signal; after all, it will be over before their tiny brains could remember that their car comes with one!!

 

Farm vehicles are dangerous things; they are not the same as construction and snow-clearing equipment which has a single blade that is positioned in the middle or front of the truck. The farm vehicle is wider and comes with multiple tools of mass destruction that are positioned behind the tractor. These blades and rods and chains hang out at weird positions, they have extension arms that fold up when they are in transit and would cover both lanes and both shoulders of the highway if they were to come down. They are secured in place by chains and hydraulics that depend on the care of man. You need to show caution when you are around them because the one thing I’ve learned travelling as much as I have on the Trans-Canada Highway… s**t happens!!

 

The fair-weather driver is a hazard to all that travel the roads with them. In another month they will hook up their mobile homes and make their way to the lakes and campgrounds that are abundant in this area. Yes, it is as redneck as it sounds. The wind will push them sideways as they maneuver done the road, still doing 110kph and fighting to control the swaying monolith behind them. The thought that going slower might aid in that control hasn’t even crossed their tiny minds. They must think that going faster makes less wind hit them!! NEWS FLASH!!! You’re not avoiding mortar rounds!!! The wind is like a big blanket! You don’t drive past it!!! Hail… yes… rain… yes… wind… not going to happen!!!

 

Speed doesn’t kill anywhere near as fast as stupid does. I witness the results of stupid driving all along the highway throughout the fair-weather season; a massive farm implement lying on its side in the ditch a camper impaled on one of its hoeing blades, the farm tractor gone but the SUV that was hauling the camper is dangling still attached to the camper or a semi-trailer pulled to the side of the road, its rear end is slightly damaged and its hazard lights are flashing, in the ditch beside it is a mangled mass of steel that had once been a luxury sedan. A long flat stretch of highway is no safer than any congested city street, accidents happen. The difference is that they happen at a higher speed and quite frequently result in more serious injury.

 

My advice to the fair-weather driver would be to slow down; the extra 15 minutes it may take you to arrive at your destination safely may be worth it. Or better yet, why don’t you take your camper and stay in the parking lot of the Big-Box store, you could park near the one flower planter they have so you get that back-to-nature experience and stay off the highways where you might get yourself or worse, me, killed!

 

They only saving grace in all this highway mayhem caused by fair-weather drivers is that the fair weather will only be here for 4 months and then winter will start up again. Then the fair-weather drivers will put their vehicles and campers away. It’s too bad though, that I can safely say, that by that time there will be a few less of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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