“The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status, or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we all believe that we are above-average drivers.”
– Dave Barry
It has begun.
Just like the season brings us sunny days, vistas of the sparkling lake and a bounty of sweet fruit and berries, it also brings a huge change to Salmon Arm – traffic.
While winter roads can be a challenge (you never want to get stuck behind that slow driver as you try to crest the hill on Okanagan Avenue), summer driving is a whole different experience due to the addition of the tourist traffic.
In the haze of extra exhaust, heated pavement and the reflection of brake lights, the Salmon Arm regulars must adapt to the sudden influx of Winnebagos on our streets.
It’s a small taste of what commuters from Calgary or Vancouver put up with on a regular basis, but for many of us, the added traffic is a small shock to the system.
All of a sudden it happens. May long weekend hits and boom, the roads are populated with RVs, fifth-weels and trucks hauling all sort of water toys from Sea-Doos to cigarette boats.
I was overwhelmed the other day to see a truck pulling a boat marked with giant oversized load banners. It was a sleek, lime green and yellow, ultra-high-powered speedboat that was literally the length of half the city block. (Glad I’m not their neighbours on the lake.)
But along with the extra traffic seems to come another unfortunate spin-off, hotter temperatures of those behind the wheel, and likely some of their backseat drivers.
Add into the mix a host of drivers travelling on unfamiliar roads and often with a ton of gear or pulling trailers, and it is a recipe for people to make driving errors.
What we can all remember is that mistakes can and will happen. As fellow drivers we need to do our best to drive defensively and be ready to react. But there is something else we can all do as well. Remember our manners.
There’s really no need to blast your horn at the driver who went out of turn at the Lakeshore Drive four-way stop. A middle finger salute is a less-than-welcoming gesture to a driver confused by Salmon Arm’s four-lane to two-lane and back to four-lane section of the Trans-Canada Highway.
Who here hasn’t ever made a driving error themselves and shrugged sheepishly, while mouthing an apology to fellow drivers?
Insults and even confrontations that escalate into road rage are simply out of line on the roads we all share.
After all, we can’t all be above-average drivers.
But we can be polite.
-Originally printed in the Salmon Arm Observer, May, 2014.