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Are Canadian drivers becoming more polite on the road?

Published March 25, 2013

For just a moment, I thought I was back in Germany.

OK, there was still a speed limit on the 401.

But I was heading eastbound the week before last, just west of Napanee. The signs indicated the right lane was being closed for construction – memo to the Ministry of Transportation, the ONLY time the right lane should EVER be closed, and even then it should be the passing lane that gets closed and the driving lane diverted to the left.

Hey – we do have a new Minister of Transportation! Hope springs eternal.

More: Is this the most selfish driver ever?

More: A BMW driver’s nasty reaction to patient driving

But I digress…

In any event, about a full kilometre before the actual construction, everybody had aligned themselves in the soon-to-be-only lane, just as proper, tidy and polite as those Germans.

We – they – didn’t even need the transport truckers doing their staggered “line up or we crush you” routine.

It was so nice!

Then, just as I got to the start of the construction, there was a fairly new black Corolla, zooming up the remnants of the right lane and butting in at the very last minute, a couple of cars ahead of me.


Seriously, man (and I could see it was a man, but I didn’t catch the plate number) – would you do that in a grocery store check-out line, or a movie theatre ticket line?

No.

So why do it on the highway?

I’ve always thought if we had to post our name and photo on the roof of our car – eliminating the anonymity that cars give us – our behaviour would improve.

Michael Jackson sang, “One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch.”

But just as my faith in Canadian drivers was being reaffirmed…

Which reminds me of the need for us to find ways to indicate to other drivers what jerks they are being.

I have searched – so far without success – for a portable pixelboard sign you could set up in your rear window, whereby you could flash messages to other drivers.

If for no other reason than to say, “HEY BUDDY! Your Daytime Running Lights don’t turn on your taillights!”

I know such technology exists, because the unmarked German police car that pulled over my fellow journalist/driving partner (who shall remain anonymous here, but you know who you are…) in the Bentley Speed GT a couple months back had one.

Very high-tech – it was hidden in the hat shelf, and rotated into view only when the officer pushed a button.

All it said was “POLIZEI”, with flashing arrows pointing to the right, directing us into a rest area where they had set up a speed limit enforcement/entrapment fishing hole.

Yeah, German cops do that, too – they are cops, after all.

(In case you didn’t know, not all of the autobahn is speed-limit-free.)

They had a van set up, three cop/clerks, no waiting, with currency conversion charts for foreigners – very efficient, as you’d expect from the Germans.

Also, expensive – something like 240 euros for 32 km over the 100 km/h limit.

But surprise, surprise – I digress…

I have also thought of other ways of expressing displeasure with other drivers.

For example, I’ve conceptually invented (no prototypes – yet) a paint-ball launching system, which would lob a paint ball pellet onto the hood of the offending car.

Except instead of paint, it would contain a paste mixture full of sulfuric acid.

Wouldn’t that be delicious?

Now, it wouldn’t be truly effective as a disciplinary device, because the perp wouldn’t associate the punishment with the crime.

He’d just wonder – why is there this patch of peeled-off paint on the hood of my car?

Maybe if he got enough of them he’d start to figure it out.

That reminded me of a classmate back in my university days who mounted a Cibie Oscar driving light on the trunk lid of his car, pointing backward.

Someone forget to dim their high beams while driving behind him?

About 400 million candlepower right between the eyes should be warning enough…

You do know I’m kidding, right?

Sort-of?

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