Driving the point home

Staff ~ The Telegram
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

A couple of recent accidents have once again focused attention on all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and the perennial problem of getting ATV users to wear helmets and to recognize that they're driving powerful, potentially dangerous machines.

But if you think ATV safety problems are the disease, you're wrong: they're really only a symptom of a larger issue, and that's the generally relaxed approach we take in this province to all kinds of motor vehicle safety.

A couple of recent accidents have once again focused attention on all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and the perennial problem of getting ATV users to wear helmets and to recognize that they're driving powerful, potentially dangerous machines.

But if you think ATV safety problems are the disease, you're wrong: they're really only a symptom of a larger issue, and that's the generally relaxed approach we take in this province to all kinds of motor vehicle safety.

Speeds on the Trans-Canada Highway and other roads are phenomenal, and you rarely see speeders pulled over by police. Cellphone use by drivers is rampant to the point of being endemic (if you can't see a driver using a cellphone within the first five minutes of a road trip, you're just not looking); and helmet use on ATVs, despite years of public service announcements, still seems honoured more in the breach.

Many drivers are not even aware that turn signals exist, drifting through stop signs without stopping is a provincial sport, and the general understanding of how merge lanes are supposed to work is next door to negligible. (Here's a hint - merging is not actually meant to be a competition with the other driver to see who can wind up in front.)

Don't even start thinking about stopping for yellow or red lights - go through one accidentally, and you never have to feel bad, because if you look in your rearview mirror, there's always another car behind you pushing the limit even further.

Want to see how drivers ignore the passing lanes on secondary highways?

Just go for a drive on the day after the province paints highway lines on a certain stretch of road, and you can see that, in the time it takes paint to dry, scores of cars have passed on the double yellow.

The problem, of course, is that our general nonchalance about the rules of the road is not just an amusing little trait; it's an error of laziness and sloppiness that is costing lives and causing injuries every single year in this province.

The general feeling seems to be an ingraining sense of "that won't happen to me," until, of course, it does. And once it has, you can feel sorry for yourself as much as you want. It doesn't change anything.

Advertising ATV and motoring safety issues may be one small piece of educating the public; a much larger piece would be to address the issue of ATV - and motor vehicle - safety with the whole next generation of users.

It is, as the saying goes, hard to teach an old dog new tricks. But there is a new generation of young dogs every single year - high school students about to get their licences - and we could have an organized and effective way to ingrain proper safety skills for those students on a whole range of driving issues.

It might take an entire generation to really change behaviour on the road - but every truly educated driver is one less to add to our already carelessly dangerous roads and ATV trails.

Organizations: Trans-Canada Highway

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Bob
    July 20, 2010 - 13:03

    Angela...Since when is a long time resident (in the woods or in a town) supposed to pull up stakes in order to accommodate some johnny-come-lately lunatics? Think about that.

  • Calvin
    July 20, 2010 - 13:03

    Enforcement is the problem. You can tell a fat kid to not eat a pie, but as soon as you turn your back that pie is history. The only problem is, there are not enough law enforcement officials to monitor the streets and highways, let alone the back roads, bike trails and rail beds. The driving, and ATV usage, is not going to get better because every person living in the St. John's area is out for number one, and think they belong at the head of every line, forefront of every opportunity and top of every list. Maybe I am wrong, there are still some good people out there, but they are harder to find every time you leave your house. You want to find some decent, down to earth individuals in Newfoundland you have to venture out around the bay where the poorest fool would give you the shirt of their back if you said you were cold.

  • Bob
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    You like many others make it sound like wearing a helmet is guaranteed protction from injury in the event of a crash. Far from it. Overall this is an excellent and bang-on editorial that covers all our sins.

  • Darwin
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Personally I think all this non-sense about ATV safety is a bit much. Its called NATURAL SELECTION. If you are stupid enough to get on an ATV after drinking or get on an ATV with someone who has been drinking and get hurt or kill yourself then thats all anyone can do. If your stupid enough to get on an ATV and drive it irresponsibly, speeding for example and get hurt then its your own fault. There are way more responsible ATV drivers out there than non-responsible ones. The responsible ones shouldn't have to follow some stupid laws made up to protect the idiots on the trails and roadways. In the end everyone has their own decision on how to operate an ATV or if they should get on an ATV with someone. If you so happen to get hurt or kill yourself operating an ATV irresponsibly then there's one less idiot I or anyone else has to worry about when were on the trail driving responsibly.

  • Phoebes
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Leah from NL about 100 feet down that SOLID line, the BROKEN (dotted) line begins. You keep rolling NOT crossing the SOLID line until you reach the BROKEN (dotted) line. At that point, you check over your left shoulder to see if it safe to enter the inside lane, if it is safe to do so, you then put your left turn signal on. Then you check over your left shoulder one more time as you cross the BROKEN (dotted) line. No one is stuck turning right on Ruth. Obviously, you are one of those people who haven't noticed the BROKEN (dotted) line, or simply do not know what SOLID vs BROKEN lines mean. This is a serious driver educational issue here in Newfoundland... people have no clue about what lines mean what... if they've even noticed them on the road in the first place.

  • Joanne
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    I more than agree with everything in this article. Our cabin area, which is Ryan's Pond and Whelan's Pond area, is no longer enjoyable because of noisy speeding ATVs, as well as noisy high-powered speed boats, and even more so, Jet Skis, out on the ponds. I won't even take my little dog for a walk, except very early morning. A lot of people don't seem to know what MERGE means, or more than likely, just don't care. There are very serious consequences, even fatal, to not using common sense when it boils down to SAFETY, or even your life or someone's elses.

  • Larry
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    people are crazy-- who in there right mind would give a kid a motor vehicle and let them rule themsleves-- some people are saying there are only a few bad apples------ i say there are only a FEW people that follow the regulations------ increase the age to 18-- and start taking the bikes and fining both the kids and thier parents for any offences-----

  • Joanne
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Joseph, For the love of heavens, why are you nit-picking and so critical ? I realize there are a lot of bad vehicle drivers, but also some good ones. I used the word vehicle with regard to laws and regulations and safety, whether people abide by them or not. I give up....go ahead anyone who wants to speed and take risks, and possibly seriously injure or kill yourselves; however, there may be innocent people involved. Didn't you hear the news last week with regards to an ATV driver being killed going around a bend with another ATV driver coming in the opposite direction???? I am concerned about peoples' safety and lives, but no one seems to understand that.

  • Joseph
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    You want people to drive ATVs on trails the way people drive cars on the roads here in Newfoundland, Joanne ? You want the situation to get worse ? You can have your cabin there since God created Earth, you still can't make others leave. Check your sense of entitlement at the door please.

  • Angela
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Bob from CBS, NL they're not. Who said this ? But if you hate it so much there now, you can't make other people move, only yourself, and like I said above, you are welcome to do so. Otherwise learn to live with your neighbours.

  • Leah
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Phoebes, Vehicles crossing that solid line at the Topsail Rd. intersection on Commonwealth Avenue are doing so because they are continuing on up Commonwealth Avenue, or turning left to go down Park Avenue, when they get to The Park Avenue/Ruth Avenue intersections. If drivers stay on the inside lane, and not cross over, they will have to turn right at Ruth Avenue.

  • Scott
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    What does this politician want really? You already can't use them on the roads, Drink, under the age of 16, on the bogs, etc. Like realistically, unless you are going to limit us to private property, how much more restrictions can you get? When drinking is involved in a car accident do they call for the license of all drivers? The ATV industry has already has been heavily bombarded with regulations due to the actions of a few bad apples. The government should concentrate on enforcement not more regulations. They don't enforce the current ones, so restricting ATV use further don't mean anything if you don't enforce it. The bad apples are still going to break the rules. Some people still like to enjoy a ride in the country, why are these people being penalized? I guess we are guilty and are unable to prove our innocence!!

  • Eugene
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    I spent a little over two weeks in southern Ontario this spring and was amazed at how orderly the multitudes of cars move around: signal that you want into a lane and cars (!) make room for you!! I wasn't home for 2 hours and saw some competitve nutcase try to run someone off the road rather than relinquish head space so the other motorist could avail of an exit ramp! More to the point about rules, we are ruled to death but still I see police constables driving while using hand-held cell phones. The only way to teach the next generation is by example. We don't want kids to smoke, drink, or drive irresponsibly, we need to live up to those standards ourselves, something that a lot of adult motorists, who should know better, aren't doing.

  • willow
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    First of all, govt has got to change the way passing lanes are marked. The yield should be on the inner lane and not the outer. I was driving to central NL this weekend and almost got creamed twice by drivers in the yield lane trying to over take me. Folks it's not rocket science, just paint the yield on the inner lane.

  • Angela
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    When a person ages and doesn't like where their cabin is any more, they are welcome to move. No one else is going away just for you. Start thinking about a retirement home maybe. It's your problem to solve so stop whining and start packing. Offroad machines can always be expected to be found................off road.

  • Ed.
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    This article is right on . especially the section on motor vehicle driving, but the police and people in authority do not seem to be too concerned about the blatant abuse of laws and regulations. another politician is trying to get noticed so he is calling for tougher ATV regulations but there is already so many that most ATV drivers do not even know most of them. enforcement is the missing link in both the highway traffic act and the ATV regulations. I also disagree with the writer on one part of his article and that is i am 69 years old and have spent many hours every year over the last 30-40 years on ATVs. from what i have observed the old dogs are the slowest and most careful ATV drivers in any area of the province that i have travelled. I believe it is the young dogs that need their driving attitudes changed. this do not apply to every person ,young or old because you will find idiots in every walk of life and they always spoil the fun and enjoyment for everyone. have a nice day.

  • Bob
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Wrong Scott!!!

  • Phoebes
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    The Mount Pearl Town Council still doesn't understand you don't need a MERGE sign off Topsail Road onto southbound Commonwealth Avenue because there is a SOLID line painted there. For all those who don't understand what a SOLID LINE means... it means DO NOT CROSS. Everyone STOPS at the MERGE sign waiting to CROSS the SOLID line. Who is more stupid ? Town Council or the drivers ? It's been like that for years. This idiocy of mixed signals and incorrect signage is one personal injury lawsuit away from being corrected. They need two signs put up which says DO NOT CROSS SOLID LINE, and one month of on-the-spot police enforcement to make sure everyone gets the message about what a SOLID LINE means.

  • Scott
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Joanne, I hate to burst you're bubble but you CABIN which is probably worth more than half the houses in town is in a RV Haven, If you are looking for peace and quite you should have choose an area with less than 400+ Cabins in the area. My Parents have a Cabin in that area as well, they are there because of the oppertunities that the area offer to an atv/snowmoblier. Sound to me like Poor planning, and if your are there for a long time you should be able to make enough on you CABIN to Buy a bit of peice and quite elsewhere

  • Joanne
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Scott from CBS, We've had our cabin as one of the first, well over 25 yrs. ago. Your parents, more than likely, enjoy their ATV and Snowmobile in a sensible manner. However, so many other areas have opened up in recent years, most of the drivers are younger and driving too fast and too recklessly. There are very many sharp turns on that long road in from Brigus Junction. There is going to be a serious or fatal accident, like it was the past week with two ATVs coming in opposite directions around a turn. I have no problem with the ATVs, Jet Skis, etc., it's the way some people drive them. They can, and should be enjoyable, but also handled as a vehicle .