OK, so we have some bad drivers in Canada. The U.S. CDC rated us third worst in a comparison of 20 first-world economies for unsafe driving, behind only New Zealand and the United States.
But we got nothing on Russia for bad drivers.
Yes, Russia is a big country with 149.6 million people. Yes, it’s unfair to tarnish an entire country with one brush. But c’mon, have you seen the videos?
Blatant disregard for, well, pretty much everything: laws, rules of the road, the laws of physics, common sense and logic. Who needs it all?
In video after video, a common thread emerges. Pure selfishness. I am the most important person with the most pressing schedule, so if I choose to cut across three lanes of oncoming traffic, you had better stop.
Did I mention the gunplay?
In many of these videos the people who are undeniably at fault are usually the ones pulling out the firepower.
Either that, or it’s road rage gone wild.
In one scene, a driver who is in such a hurry, he’s going to pull out to pass, and never mind there’s oncoming traffic barrelling towards him at 80 km/h.
In other videos, drivers in snowstorms don’t seem to comprehend that if you can’t see past your hood, perhaps you shouldn’t be going so fast. Or they try to save time by passing, forgetting the windrows between tire tracks is going to alter their lane changes. If they aren’t hitting the ditch, they’re hitting oncoming traffic, or swerving back and hitting the vehicle they just passed.
Yup. Real time-saver there.
Did I mention the idiots in some of the motorcycle crash videos? First off, there’s are several reasons why most sensible jurisdictions ban the practice of riding between lanes. In these videos, we see most of them.
If the biker’s direction of travel is stopped to avoid gridlock, cars turning left across your direction of travel see only stopped cars and a clear path to proceed. They don’t see the biker barrelling between lanes at a high speed.
A guy in a parked car is going to think he’s free to open his door, especially if the traffic the biker is trying to squeeze past is stopped. Similarly, a car changing lanes isn’t expecting a biker to appear out of nowhere.
Then there are the drivers who can’t be bothered to queue up to turn left, forgetting, of course, the reason the cars ahead are stopped is because there’s oncoming traffic. OK, so we’ll just scoot to the left of the left-turn queue and, bang. Crash. Tinkle.
Or the drivers who brush off stop signs, stop lights, yield signs, stopped cars… They just barrel right on through.
Here’s a hint: if you’re backing out of a parking stall and someone honks, it usually means “Hey you, please stop or you’ll hit my car.” Don’t ignore that one.
Here’s another one: if the lane you’re trying to turn into is filled with cars facing you, you’re probably on the wrong side of the median.
And: if you’re trying to turn left in moving traffic and there are multiple lanes, don’t turn left out of the rightmost lane. Just sayin’.
Most of these videos are in Russia. But there’s at least one either from China or Japan, based on the characters on the storefront signs. This one ignores one very basic physical law: two objects cannot occupy the same co-ordinates in space-time at the same time. In other words, wait for the scooter ahead of you to turn left before you try.
The collection of bad decisions these drivers make is astonishing. More frightening is how most of these collisions could have been avoided by even the worst drivers with one simple fix: look before you drive.
What’s really amazing is some of these videos come from the dashcam of the driver who just royally screwed up. If I did something that stupid, I’d be formatting that SD card before anyone had a chance to see it, let alone post it.
Don’t get me wrong: In Canada, we have a long way to go in improving driver training. It is, however, comforting to know it could be worse. A lot worse.