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THE VIEW FROM HERE: Seventeen pet peeves from the highway

Vernon Oickle has a few pet peeves about local roads (and local drivers).
Vernon Oickle has a few pet peeves about local roads (and local drivers). - 123RF Stock Photo

I spend a lot of time on the road every week and while the commute does often get a bit tedious, the time behind the wheel does give me the opportunity to reflect on things. Lately, I’ve been thinking about other drivers and road issues that especially irk me.

Not to sound judgemental (well, I guess I am), but here are a few things that cause me to cringe and, yes, sometimes even curse out loud when I see them. In no particular order, the following are 17 peeves from the highway.

1. Tailgaters. I mean, really. One would think that every person who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle would know how dangerous tailgating is. In other words, back off. Give me space.

2. Drivers who hit the open road following a snowstorm without cleaning off the roof of their vehicle are really asking for trouble. Not only is this a courtesy to the drivers who will be following your vehicle on the roads, but snow and ice flying off your roof can be a traffic hazard. Please take the time to fully clean your vehicle. You owe it everyone else on the road.

3. In the same vein, drivers who do not make sure all of their vehicle windows are cleared of ice and snow before leaving the driveway are also tempting fate. It is not only extremely dangerous to drive without a clear view, but it’s also illegal and could result in you getting a fine. Be smart and scrape your windows.

4. People who do not dim their lights when approaching oncoming traffic are in my bad books. Not only is it annoying but making another driver stare into bright lights is downright rude. This is a basic rule of the road and even new drivers know that one.

5. The same can be said for people who follow behind at night. Please have some compassion for the driver in front of you and dim your lights. Again, this is common sense.

6. And this one has to be on any list of highway peeves — people who do not use single lights when making a turn. I know. I know. You’ve heard me say this many times before but apparently, it bears repeating because I continue to see this every day. Clearly the message is not getting through. Some day, you’re going to cause an accident and when you do, you will have no one else to blame.

7. A real serious infraction that continues to infuriate me are those drivers who continue to use their cell phones while driving. Oh my God, people. Not only are you breaking a very seriously law but you are also risking the lives of everyone else around you. If something is so serious that you can’t wait until you arrive at your destination, then pull over and make your call. What did we ever do before cellphones were invented?

8. And, continuing on that thought, if you do pull over, make sure you’ve found a spot where you can completely pull off the road or else you are posing another safety risk. Don’t tisk tisk me about this. I see it all the time.

9. Another thing that bothers me are drivers who don’t slow down when they’re approaching an emergency vehicle. Going around the vehicle, be it a police car or an ambulance, is one thing but the law stipulates that you must also slow down.

10. Here’s one that really gets in my craw. Can you believe that after all the publicity about littering and increased fines people are still throwing their garbage out their windows. I’m not really sure what else to say about this except that it’s downright disgusting for anyone to throw trash to the side of the road. Come on people. Please don’t litter.

11. Speaking of ignorant people who throw things out their windows, how about those who flick their cigarette butts outside. I know people smoke and that’s your decision, but when someone flicks their butt out the window and it hits my windshield I become more than just a little annoyed. I’m sure you know what I mean.

12. How about those drivers who putt, putt along the highway until you attempt to pass them. Then, what do they do? Right. They speed up as if trying to prevent you from passing. Really? People do that? They sure do and those individuals I say just stop it because you’re going to cause an accident. Driving the highways is not supposed to be a race.

13. I also get peeved when someone goes flying past me as if they’re rushing to get somewhere important (maybe they are) only to turn off the highway at the next exit. Come on people. That hardly seems safe. Surely, speeding to get to the exit isn’t necessary. If you need more time to reach your destination, then leave yourself more time.

14. And what about those people who are entering the highway? Do they actually think it’s safer for them to try to force their way between two vehicles in a line of traffic instead of slowing down and waiting for a good place to merge?

15. Drivers who always seem to be in a rush and don’t even bother to stop at stop signs, like the one who pulled out in front of me the other day when I was in Lunenburg, really get under my skin. I know it isn’t practical, but it’s too bad municipal units can’t afford to have webcams on every major intersection in this province. Some of these places are just accidents waiting to happen.

16. Here’s an issue that I have never fully understood. If we are supposed to drive with a clear, unfettered view of the road, how then, can anyone drive safely with a dog perched on your lap or a cat draped around their shoulder? Doesn’t make sense to me that there isn’t a law that calls for animals to be properly restrained when being transported in a moving vehicle. I’m just saying.

17. While potholes are not the fault of drivers, I will say the state of the roads and highways really irk me. I know potholes and crumbling pavement is a spring tradition in Nova Scotia, but it seems to me that lately the state of our roads have become deplorable and they appear to get worse every year. Makes one wonder if it’s the type of severe weather we’re now forced to endure or is it the quality of the pavement that goes down on the road? I don’t know the answer, but me and every other driver out there would surely like to see a solution.

Most of these points are not only enshrined in our laws, but they are also common sense. My take away from all of this is that, for the most part, Nova Scotians are bad drivers and most, if not all, in need of a major refresher.

I am no saint, but I understand that bad habits have a way of infringing on common sense. However, you should remember that when you get behind the wheel of a motorized vehicle, you are not only taking your own life into your hands, but also the life of everyone else on the highway. As such, you owe it to yourself and everyone else to be the best driver you can be and that’s the view from here.

Vernon Oickle was born and raised in Liverpool where he continues to reside with his family. He has worked for more than 30 years in community newspapers on the South Shore and is the author of 28 books.

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