Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Carnage on the streets of Calgary, a rant.

It snowed last night and this morning. Big deal, only a few cm. But holy hannah! Several major roads and intersections were shut down. There were several dozen multi-vehicle collisions. It was slippery, yes, but I didn't think it was that bad. One pickup barged on past me, slipping and sliding along the way. I only hope he didn't hit anyone as he was trying to get stopped. These people need to learn to drive properly. That's the issue, they haven't, at least not past the level of 'push that pedal to go faster, that one to slow, and use this to steer.'

Rant on! Drivers school should actually be a school, with at least a week of full time instruction with practical tests driving a rear-steer car. Everybody goes through it, no exceptions. Every 5 years you go through a 1 day refresher and do a road test, and it should be tougher than it is now. Phased in starting with the oldest people, and working younger over a 5 year period. Failure means no license. Anybody that has any collision between their vehicle and anything else should have to go back to drivers school for a refresher and take the test again before they can drive again. Part of the course material should show ambulance and fire crews cutting a car open and cleaning out the bodies with a sponge.

Simulator technology is very good now. We should be doing some of that training in a simulator, and that training should scare the shit out of teenagers. I mean it. Put the video game designers onto it. I'd like to see kids coming out of the simulators with seatbelt bruises, ringing ears, and wet pants if they make a mistake. Teach them that driving is not a game. 

Cars should have an interlock that requires a valid drivers license to be inserted into it before the car can be started. The license itself has a chip that can be set to allow the car to start, or not, so the person can keep it for ID. Lending someone else your license is grounds for suspension yourself. This will cut down on the drunks on the road. 

There are no 'accidents'. All that carnage we see on the roads, all those people injured and killed in automobile collisions, hundreds of them a year in Alberta alone, all of them are preventable. I'd like to see for a while, all auto collisions treated like an airplane crash. The driver's name, address, photograph, and what they did wrong gets published in the local paper, because it's almost certainly the fault of one of the drivers. They should have to give talks to the driver classes to explain what they did wrong, preferably to classes that include their friends and children of their friends. We do this till collisions become as rare as airplane crashes.

Rather than just an anonymous cross at a collision site, how about a fairly large temporary sign, for 6 months or so. "Bill Blob of 123 Any St. Killed a mother and two kids, costing a total of $xxx for emergency response, medical treatment, and lost time, because he was DUI." 

I'd tell the insurance companies that if they can prove a driver was using a cell phone during an accident, they can deny all coverage to that driver, and in fact can sue them to recover the costs of coverage for the people the driver injured. For decades pilots have been communicating complex and detailed instructions while flying, so clearly talking and managing a vehicle are not, or should not be mutually exclusive activities. Maybe they can teach that in drivers school too.

Teach people to drive properly and share the road with bikes and pedestrians via making eye contact. Teach them how to drive to conditions. Teach them the skills to use good judgement when driving, and if they can't or won't learn, they don't drive.  Being in an automobile is just about the single most dangerous thing a North American can do and that is frightening and so preventable. Rant off, thank you for your attention.

In swimming news today, I got in a good 50 minute 2200m workout. Lots of 100 m intervals, with less and less rest time as things went along. Most of them were done in 115 seconds, until I got to the end where it stretched out to 120 seconds per. No swim core, though, the dive tank was very busy.


  1. My mom has backed into two poles over the last maybe 6 months. Never has had a ticket but has backed her car into these two poles...SGI is sending her to driver's school!! To repeat her driver's license!! Its a whole day thing.

  2. Good rant!! Hahahahaha -- The snow DUMPED here last night -- holy crap, this is an insane year already!!

    How's your cold? Are you feeling a bit better? :)

  3. running my first marathon on sunday and the weather is going to be cold. been training all summer with the warm weather. what should i wear!?!! ( seriously )

    and see you in canada 2010... :-)

  4. Hahahaha - I liked (and agreed) with the rant. So rant on is right!

    They are running a controversial commercial here in the States targeting teenagers who text while driving. I wonder if it’s shown up there too? I think it’s effective.

    PS- I didn't get a map at Powell's. :( However, I did buy a t-shirt :)

  5. I think that the elderly should start taking driving tests as well. Let's say at 65, they start taking a road test every other year. This would cut down on some issues as well! Some old people should not drive! I don't care if they're sane or not!


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