Tuesday, March 25, 2008

March 25, 2008

I'd like to point out a poor driving habit that makes me crazy almost every day. Here are the facts:

I walk across Centrepointe every day, at least twice a day. I use the designated crosswalk near the Marshy's plaza and I usually push the button that makes the traffic lights go red for the cars (if there are no cars in sight, I just walk across without pushing the button). These traffic lights are the regular kind, with the red/yellow(amber)/green lights, not the big yellow crosswalk "X". So when cars are approaching the crosswalk, after I have pushed the button, they see the lights turn from green to amber and then to red. I haven't timed how long the lights stay red but it is for about one minute - long enough for a slow walker to get safely across. There are four lanes on the road along Centrepointe. Usually traffic travels in the centre two lanes and the outside lanes are used for turning onto roads that branch off of Centrepointe. However, at this crosswalk, a lot of the traffic travelling south makes a left hand turn into the plaza and so cars going straight trough go around them and into the right hand or curb lane. All of this is legal.

Here is what happens that makes me crazy:
After I push the button, I step a little to one side so that I can watch as the lights change from green to amber. Then I watch the approaching traffic. Almost without fail, every single car that approaches the crosswalk as the light turns amber continues through the crosswalk. Some of the cars even speed up a little so they won't get "caught" in the intersection as the light turns red. This in itself is illegal. (Check out section 114 of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act.)

What really burns me are the cars that proceed through the crosswalk AFTER the light has turned red. They do this because they can get way with it because no one has actually started to walk across the road and so they don't risk hitting the pedestrian who pushed the button. I experimented recently, watching the cars approach on the amber and I stepped into the road AFTER the light had gone red but while a car was still motoring through the crosswalk. The car was in the far lane from where I was and so we both knew I was not going to get hit but I got close enough to the car as it passed me (going through the red light) that I could have touched it if I'd run instead of walked.

This makes me crazy because the wait at the crosswalk is all of one minute (maybe less - I'll try to remember to time it one day). The driver of a car, who, by the way is sitting down in a nice warm box, has to wait an entire 60 seconds while some freezing pedestrian struggles across the road. Apparently that is too much to ask of drivers.

Here are the pertinent subsections of the Highway Traffic Act:
Amber light
s. 114 (15) Every driver approaching a traffic control signal showing a circular amber indication and facing the indication shall stop his or her vehicle if he or she can do so safely, otherwise he or she may proceed with caution. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 144 (15).

Penalty for disobeying red or amber light
s. 114 (31.2) Every person who contravenes subsection (15) or (18) is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not less than $150 and not more than $500. 1998, c. 5, s. 26.



zoom said...

Yeah, that nice warm box thing really irks me when they do things to make my life harder - like deliberately splashing me, or nosing into the intersection in front of me, forcing me to either wait for them to get a break in traffic or else walk around them.

bikerider said...

And besides being warm they have a Horton's in one hand and a cell phone in the other. Maybe you ought to ask OPS to set up a bit of surveillance to see how many errant drivers they can nab. It may offset the snow removal surcharge!

JuliaR said...

Zoom, I don't even think their bad actions are deliberate - they are unconscious most of the time! I have been wondering about carrying a container of plain water and splashing their car with it if they go through on the red. It might startle them enough to wake up. Then again, if they are that stupid and asleep at the wheel, they might drive right off the road if startled. Grr.

Bikerider, I have wondered about contacting OPS to tell them of the bonanzas of red-light-runners. An especially fruitful intersection is Woodroffe and Navaho, which I also cross every day.