The gun lobby mantra is “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” The same is applied to the two-lane road that connects Cornwall with Highway 417. “Highway 138 is a killer!”
Yes, too many motorists are killed on 138, but it’s not the road that’s the killer. It’s all too often the impatient, aggressive, imprudent drivers that cause a disproportionate number of the deaths.
Some try to make up for having lingered under the covers for an extra ten-minutes, or for being delayed by an over-long line-up at Tim Horton’s drive-through, or for the ten extra minutes it took to scrape off the ice or snow from windshield. Whatever the reason, it boils down to not allowing for one of life’s many inevitable delays.
As a result, they try to pass with no margin for error, too little ability to accelerate, too little space in front of the car being passed, with the on-coming vehicle closing the distance at too fast of a rate. However, Mr. Late usually gets away with it. It’s not unlike playing Russian Roulette, not with a six-cylinder revolver but with a six-cylinder Honda. That’s when Mr. Late becomes the late Mr. Late. Unfortunately, one or more other commuters also get to have their pictures appear on the next day’s front page and on the second to last page of the following day’s local paper.
There are times to pass, but only if it can be done safely.
If I need the acceleration of a jet fighter being catapulted off an aircraft carrier flight deck, I don’t pass.
I pass as soon as I know I can do it without any stress. I don’t like trailing behind a slow-moving vehicle that is weaving erratically, or drawing a trailer that looks as if its improperly secured load is about to become road litter.
If there’s the slightest doubt, I prefer to pull off at the next intersection, to let the end of the conga line of frustrated drivers get five minutes ahead of me. It’s better to arrive five minutes late than to never arrive.
However, if I was in a convoy on an IED-littered Afghanistan road, I’d prefer to be number two, willing to eat dust in exchange for safety.
Why is it that the tailgater who is unwilling to put up with my trail of road spray passes me, but then pokes along at a speed lower than mine?
A highway with a wide, impregnable concrete median barrier is much safer than an undivided road. Unfortunately, we just can’t afford to have all roads like that – unless we choose to do without hospitals, schools, safe drinking water, proper sewage treatment, snow removal and garbage collection.
Until then, get out of bed ten minutes earlier. Until then, the only time it’s absolutely necessary to pass is when you’ve been dealt a poor hand, or someone has asked for the gravy, or if you want a credit for the course you’ve been taking.