It’s easy to say that things are crazy on the busy streets of Toronto – it’s quite another to actually do something about it. Yes – it feels like it’s always rush hour. And yes – there always seems to be congestion of some kind or another. And yes – it appears that we are experiencing what the Toronto Star calls a “deteriorating driving culture”. The truth is, it’s not always the other guy – we all make our share of mistakes and we all contribute to the big picture.
The experts agree that its all about disciplined driving – and that includes driving skills, driving techniques, and driving habits. On that basis, there is nothing better than proper driver training. And proper really means professional – a combination of in-class instruction relative to driver theory PLUS in-car training that incorporates supervised driving lessons. According to industry statistics, this is a combination that prepares drivers to be skilled and proficient on the road.
Beyond driving skill and ability, there are a few fundamentals essential to driving, and especially on the busy streets of Toronto. In most cases, it means following the rules and regulations of the road; using as much common sense as possible; and considering other drivers as part of the street, highway or parking lot. The basics are really simple – but putting them into practice is the key.
SPEEDING: Clearly there are speed limits posted everywhere. But the fact is, most drivers exceed the limits, especially on the highway. The idea here is to be conscious of one’s speed, without the risk of extremes and the potential for costly, and often devastating, fines and penalties.
MERGING: This is probably the worst infraction on the road or highway. Traffic flow should be smooth – pushing in is absolutely not productive, and neither is squeezing out. Both contribute to reactive braking and driver stress. Proper signaling and patience deliver the best results.
CUTTING-IN: Cutting-in is aggressive, discourteous and dangerous – especially on the highway. The rule here is simple – just don’t do it. Cutting-in disturbs the smooth flow of traffic, and often results in a “stop-and-go” effect. In truth, nobody wins and driver stress is always amplified.
RUBBER-NECKING: Although it’s human nature, it should also be a NO-NO. Whatever the reason – an accident, a flat tire, a mishap of some sort – it should be avoided. This bad habit takes focus away from driving and contributes to traffic slowing down without good reason.
PHONING/TEXTING: There’s no discussion here – it’s against the law; the fines are huge; and the risk of a driver-instigated accident is absolutely not worth. Unfortunately, plenty of drivers still phone and text while they drive, and the statistics are a serious cause for alarm.
As it is, there is no substitute for good driver training. A reputable school will be approved and endorsed by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. That would include all of the instructional materials, as well as the driving instructors (licensed and certified by the MTO). And if the school is further endorsed by an organization like the Ontario Safety League, that’s even better. In the end, quality training and expert instruction is always going to engender better skills and habits.