A Different Kind of Brake Check
This is another instance of where most drivers would shake their heads and ask themselves “Just what were they thinking?”
I’m speaking of a video of two drivers on a freeway using the left lane during an instance of congestion. The pickup noses up the the rear end of the car and the car driver spikes the brakes resulting in a minor collision. I’ll venture to suggest that in this case, neither driver was thinking at all.
I did investigate an instance of this during my policing career. It happened on Highway 97 south of Penticton one summer. After the collision, the driver who had braked exited his vehicle and pointed out his bumper sticker to the other driver. The bumper sticker said “I Brake for Tailgaters!”
After interviewing both drivers and completing the collision report, it was then time to get out the ticket book. Each driver was issued a violation ticket for their contribution to the collision, the obvious one was following too closely and the other for driving without reasonable consideration for others using the highway. Ultimately, neither ticket was disputed.
It may be a coincidence as the video is only 38 seconds long, but I wonder if this incident had been building for some time. The traffic in the right lane is moving faster than the traffic in the left lane until after the collision occurs. At that point, traffic in both lanes appears to be moving with the same speed. The driver who caused the collision may also be a left lane blocker. Here in B.C. if you are slower traffic in the left lane, you are obligated to move to the right lane, regardless of the fact that you may be driving at or over the speed limit.
Tailgating or following too closely is epidemic on our highways. Some drivers do it because they are poor judges of visual distance, some are careless and others use it as a method of intimidating slower drivers to move them out of the way.
Solutions range from teaching drivers the two second rule (which has recently started to become the three second rule) to painting dots on the highway to show drivers how much space should be kept between vehicles at minimum.
B.C. has begun to post two new road signs, one advising drivers to keep right and let others pass and the other suggesting one should be courteous and keep right to let others pass. Comments on the TranBC blog seem to indicate that drivers are ignoring the signs and that without significant enforcement by police nothing will change. It’s a pity that courtesy is not a consideration to extend to others when it comes to using the highway.
I’ll conclude with something to think about. Following distance at two to three seconds is merely a buffer to give you time to think and react to a change in traffic ahead. It does not include braking distance considerations and may have to be significantly extended in times of poor traction. Self preservation may mean slowing down further or even stopping off the roadway to encourage that tailgater to move on by.
The case of Maddex v Sigouin looks at somewhat similar circumstances and decides liability for the resulting collision.