Defensive Driving and Defensive Walking
The night on Nov. 17, 2008 after work, I drove in Halifax.
It was my third road training with an instructor at Ha’s Driver School, and my first time of running a vehicle in the darkness. When we were closing to Sackville Street on Barrington Street, the instructor showed me the site where a young woman was struck under a dump truck when she was crossing the street that very samemorning. The first response of mine was if my daughter was at home. Yes, she was. One hour ago we talked on the phone. Although I confirmed and ensured my daughter was safe, the news had made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I felt extremely horrible that life was taken away in the blink of an eye! However, if the driver checked one more time, if the woman checked one more time, the tragedy might never have happened.
The rest of the driving at that night was filled with more “mirror, signal and shoulder check”. My eyes had never been as busy as they were. “Defensive driving” hit every object it could reach, and its echoes never died away in the dark as if the driver school teacher emphasized it again and again during the 25-hour in-house education sources. By the end, the instructor summarized and commented on my night performance-I did not see people emerged from the back of a parked car once, I almost missed a “stop sign” once, I skipped “mirror check” twice before brakes, I ignored road signs more than three times, I did not read the road ahead when I made turns, I should be much more alert than I had been while driving……All in all, to me there would be a long way to go in terms of a good driver and then a defensive driver which is my goal.
Honestly, the original reason why I decided to go back to a driving school was for car insurance. When I was thinking about buying a car, I checked with insurance companies, the insurance to me without any insurance record and driving education in Canada would be more than $3000 a year though I was issued a class 5 Nova Scotia driver licence in 2005. Therefore, I registered at the driving school in October. Now looking back the education and trainings obtained, the value is much more than its price, $595, and the significance is far beyond getting a low insurance.
In addition, the necessity taking the education, or returning to a driving school may not be just to me only.
One of my colleagues, I am sure she has been driving a car or cars for many years, told me that she would like to go back to a driving school to refresh or update the knowledge and improve her driving techniques if she had time. If it became one of the priorities, she would do it soon, I believe.
One of my Chinese fellows and good friends, whom I met at the Kentville Research Station of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in 2005, offered me rides when I went home sometimes since we both worked at the station and lived in Wolfville. First time when I showed him Winter Street where the house I lived located, he hit the brake and stopped the car just in the middle of the street near Winter Street. I thought I interrupted him, so he stopped (parked) suddenly. However it happened identically at the second time. This time I could not help but asked him why his curb-side wheels were about two meters away from the street curb, instead of within or close to 15 centimetres according to the Nova Scotia Driver’s Handbook. I could barely stand this though he was a good friend, and was also surprised how he passed the driving road test and received a driver licence of Nova Scotia. He perhaps was terribly embarrassed because of my outspokenness. However, it is the rule everybody must obey for the safety of lives, his, mine and others (My dear friend, if you read here, please do not be mad at me).
There have been a lot of stories of conflicts on road heart from people around me. I also saw some drivers driving as if they were number one on the road drove beside me. I did encounter pedestrians showing up on the street at very wrong places when I drove. The tragedy that happened on the corner of Barrington/Sackville Street on the 17th of Nov. has not been forgotten.
Therefore, I would like to pack defensive driving and defensive walking in a box as one of my Christmas gifts because I am starting to play two roles, in other words, I will be the both, a driver and a pedestrian on streets after I have a car.
Nov. 22, 2008, Halifax