It’s been a while since we’ve had what could be considered a “normal” summer season on the province’s highways.
With tourism sharply curtailed over the past two years, and many locals staying close to home, a lot of people will have forgotten what it’s like to deal with construction zones, increased traffic, and all those tourists on our highways.
Here’s a short guide to get you back into the swing of things, and help you preserve your sanity during those summer road trips that everyone insists will provide you with a lifelong source of happy memories.
Happy campers: Isn’t it wonderful to see all those foreign tourists back, renting campers and discovering our magnificent province! Isn’t it fun to be stuck behind them as they do well below the speed limit while they admire the view! Just remember the boost they’re giving to our economy, as you try to figure out how far it is to the next passing lane. Please resist the urge to honk or gesture rudely as you pass; that’s a view no one admires.
Construction ahead. Really, we mean it: Signs warning of a construction zone ahead are usually placed some distance before the actual start of said zone, to give drivers time to prepare. Unfortunately, since the construction often cannot be seen when the first warning sign comes into view, many drivers treat it as a mirage. These are the people who, when confronted by the construction zone itself, seem to be taken by surprise, and slam on their brakes in an attempt to see how long it takes their vehicle to go from travelling 110 km/hr to zero km/hr. Don’t be that person. The driver ahead of you, watching your approach in his or her rear-view mirror, doesn’t need the stress of wondering if you’ll stop in time.
Do the wave: I always wave at flagpersons, because they’re doing a thankless job: standing outside with no relief in all weathers as they control traffic. If you think “cushy job” as you drive past, ask yourself: how would you like it if your job involved standing in one spot, with no protection other than a vest and a hardhat, while tubes of metal weighing thousands of pounds whiz past within feet of you (not to mention the drivers who think lobbing a beer can at you, flipping you the bird, or swearing at you is completely justified).
Back off: Whether I’ve slowed down because of construction, flashing lights at the roadside, a treacherous stretch of road, bad weather, or anything else, I’d appreciate it if you’d stop trying to get inside the trunk of my vehicle. Getting within centimetres of my tailpipe is not going to make me go any faster, or get you to your destination any sooner, but it will raise blood pressures all around, and none of us need that.
He who passes shall be passed: This was the unofficial driving motto of my paternal grandfather, who seemed to take being passed as a personal challenge, and an opportunity to see how much get up and go his car really had. If someone passes you, wish them well and forget about them. And do not be that person who dawdles along just below the speed limit, creating a parade behind them, then becomes a Grand Prix driver when they hit a passing lane (but only for the length of the passing lane; as soon as it ends, they’re back to dawdling). No one likes that person.
Respect the bathroom break: There seems to be something about being the driver on a long road trip that makes a person impervious to the usual demands of nature. If there are other people with you, be considerate of their need to stop for a break more than once in a 400-kilometre stretch. This goes double if young children are involved.
Thanks for the memories: Remind yourself that these summer road trips will be something you look back on with fondness in years to come; you just have to survive them first.
Happy trails to you!
Barbara Roden is editor for the Ashcroft Cache Creek Journal.