Take care on Saskatchewan’s highways

After too many near misses in just the past few weeks, I’ve just about had enough.

OK Saskatchewan, we have to have a little talk about how a small, but dangerous minority of drivers behave on the province’s roads.

I’ve been travelling a lot of two-lane highways this summer, and I’ve had way too many close calls with people heading the wrong way in my lane.

The reason seems to be people’s insistence on passing over a solid, yellow line.

I get the desire to pass. There is slower-moving traffic or vehicles you can’t see past travelling up ahead of you.

I take no issue with passing, so long as it is done safely.

But for each of the last four weekends, I have encountered someone passing over a solid, yellow line.

That line means do not cross. The line isn’t just being a stickler, either. It marks a spot in the highway where visibility is reduced, due to either a blind corner or a hill, or another feature such as an intersection.

Twice on a hill and twice around a corner, I’ve had near-misses with oncoming traffic passing in a no-pass zone and heading towards me in my lane.

Once I was a passenger. But it was still terrifying.

I know I’m not the only one. A friend of mine posted about a similar experience recently – having to pull over and slow down because of headlights coming head-on.

With cars travelling well in excess of 100 km/h, especially s they accelerate to pass, crossing that solid line could have deadly results.

My closest call came last weekend, driving in a bit of a flash rainfall. It was a curving bend. Visibility was already down. I actually didn’t notice the car in my lane until it would have been too late.

Thankfully, that other car nipped back in front of the semi it was passing with inches to spare.

I had to pull over for a few moments to collect my thoughts because for an instant, I certainly felt like I was about to die. There was limited cell service in the area. Who knows how long it would have been for help to arrive if I had been hit.

That’s not the only insanely dangerous passing behaviour I’ve seen over the past month of highway driving.

There have been at least two others that worried me on Saskatchewan roads.

One is serial passing.

I have passed more than one car in a row, but I do so in very rare circumstances. I have to be absolutely certain no one is coming for a long way ahead.

The other weekend I was about third in line behind a pickup pulling a rather large trailer.

In my driver’s side mirror, I spotted another large pickup, this one hurtling forward blindly, attempting to pass five cars and a trailer. It had to make a sudden dodge between cars when it realized it couldn’t make it.

A similar incident almost turned deadly heading back from Waskesiu about a month ago. A car was passing about six of us in a row when the car immediately behind the slower driver pulled out into traffic.

The serial passer just slowed in time, but the confusion almost caused both of them to get into a head-on collision.

Similarly, there are the drivers who will pass when the guy in front of them goes to pass. I don’t know if they haven’t looked or they’re relying on blind faith, but there have been several close calls I’ve seen when two vehicles both go to pass at the same time.

The other passing behaviour is one I learned in driving school. That’s to slow down or move over when passing a disabled vehicle.

I’m not talking an emergency vehicle with flashing lights here, but two white cars by the side of the road.

They were highway patrol, and some drivers sped past without slowing down or moving over, even though they were travelling by a dotted line and the way was clear.

I have an old childhood friend who is a tow truck driver.

He was almost killed when a car neither slowed down nor moved over and hit him on the side of the QEW, an eight-lane highway west of Toronto.

Even if their lights aren’t flashing, it’s probably better to slow down and move over than to slip a bit and cost someone their life.

That’s actually true in all of these cases.

Those extra few minutes aren’t worth it if someone doesn’t get there safely.

Even if you haven’t engaged in any of these risky behaviours yourself, you might know someone who has. We all need to work together to discourage this behaviour.

No one wants their life to end on a highway far away from the ones they love.

Thierman Financial