Friday, May 24, 2013

Small-Town Drivers

I've been saying for years that the city of Lethbridge has some of the worst drivers in North America.  People who don't have significant hours of driving in Lethbridge under their belts don't believe me.  They see its relative small size for a city (89,000 people) and figure that larger cities have it far worse.  Larger cities have huge volumes of traffic that cause a lot of problems by sheer virtue of numbers, but I'm convinced that, per capita, Lethbridge has far more stupid drivers than larger Albertan cities like Edmonton and Calgary.  The reason for this is threefold:

1)  As a retirement town, Lethbridge has a large number of seniors.  It's the higher end of these seniors -- 75 + -- that are the problem.  I'm sorry, I love seniors (outside of work), but as people get older, their vision, hearing, and reflexes deteriorate to the point that it's scary to be on the road with them.

2)  Lethbridge has a university and a college, so for two thirds of the year, young reckless college-aged kids are rocketing around the roads, weaving in-and-out of traffic.  I admit, I used to be one of them.

3)  There are a lot of farms and small towns in the Lethbridge area, and people from these more rural areas come to Lethbridge in droves every day for shopping or other reasons.  A lot of people who have spent the bulk of their lives in small towns and on farms are terrible drivers.

This article is going to focus on small-town drivers.  For the past four years, I have lived in the town of Picture Butte (1700 people).  It's right in the middle of Alberta's cattle country, and we're surrounded by a lot of large ranches and wheat farms.  I could go on at length listing all of my personal experiences with awful Picture Buttian (Buttite?  Butte-head?) drivers, not to mention the legless old man who thinks his electric wheel chair is a car, but I'm going to talk about one instance, which happened this afternoon.

Nobody from Picture Butte knows how a four-way stop works.  (I'm not from Picture Butte; I just live there.)  This intersection in particular is the bane of my existence:
7th Street (north-south) and Crescent Avenue (southwest-northeast)
Just looking at that makes me want to start a rant about how the town should have set itself up as a nice, neat grid instead of haphazardly throwing roads together at weird angles, but I'll control myself.  This intersection is controlled by a four-way stop.  It's busy by Picture Butte standards, especially when school starts in the morning and ends in the afternoon, since there are two elementary schools nearby -- one Catholic and one public.  Nine times out of ten, I'm angry at someone when I get there.  Nobody seems to understand that the first car to stop is the first car to go, regardless of the direction it's going.  Here's the set-up for situation this afternoon:
Zoom in for a better look.  I'm the Mazda 5 (labelled 2).  The other two are represented by Ford F150s, because this is Alberta.
The numbers represent the order that each of us arrived at the intersection.  #1, directly opposite me, arrived first and signaled to turn left (north) onto 7th Street.  Then I arrived and signaled to turn right (also north) onto 7th Street.  Lastly, #3 arrived, and she was going straight (north again) up 7th.  What should have happened was this: #1 turns left, followed be me turning right, and then #3 following me.  Instead, we sat there staring at each other for a moment.  Then #1 waved me to turn.  This happens a lot at this intersection. The person turning left has the right-of-way, but since they see that I'm signaling to turn right, they think I have the right-of-way, and they wave me through the intersection.  I hate that.  I'm always sure that a cop will see and give me a ticket.  So this afternoon, I shook my head and waved driver #1 through the intersection.  She made her left turn, and then I started to make my right turn.  I had to slam on the brakes partway through, though, because driver #3 came straight through the intersection even though she was clearly the last one to get there.

Anyway.  The main reason for this entry is because I wanted to play around with the photo editing software.  Photoshop is so much better.

1 comment:

  1. I saw that first picture and thought, "what a jacked up intersection."


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