I would like to think I’m a pretty good driver. I’m courteous, careful and drive within an acceptable range of the speed limit (or “speed suggestion”, as I like to call it). And I’ve never been in an accident that was my fault. But I will admit, there are times that I am perhaps a little less attentive than I should be. Whether it’s changing the radio station, searching for my sunglasses in the depths of my purse or just contemplating the meaning of life while on the road, there are times that I am not paying as much attention as I know I should.

I understand that this is a problem and that many accidents are caused by inattentiveness. What I don’t understand is the necessity of reminding people about this using signs ON THE ROAD. This is where trying to be helpful crosses into self-defeating territory, as far as I’m concerned.

I was approaching Baseline Road driving south on Woodroffe Avenue and I saw one of those large, lit signs up ahead that they tend to use in construction when lanes are closing. From a distance, I couldn’t see what was written and I got all flustered (as I tend to do), worrying about whether I would have to move over and whether I would be able to turn where I wanted. I certainly wasn’t paying much attention to careful driving as I strained to see what was written on the sign as I approached. Turns out, the sign was there simply to remind drivers that this intersection is a high-collision one and that we should all drive carefully. Well thank you for that. I’m sure the person that was behind me as I slowed down and hesitated thanks you too.

Toronto has a series of signs above their highway system to warn drivers about upcoming traffic problems and slowdowns, which I think is a great idea that I would love to see implemented in Ottawa (“Game night – good luck getting home before 8:00 p.m.”). But I’ll never forget driving past one that proclaimed “Careful driving requires your full attention.” And what was I doing while reading this helpful sign? Right – not watching the road.

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