Monday, March 1, 2010

Highway Snobbery

A couple days ago I was having a conversation with someone who was born and bred on PEI, and we got into the topic of the ability of PEI drivers...or should I say, inability of PEI drivers to drive in a normal, safely and road conscious manner. Ok, so he got a little defensive when I announced that all PEI drivers are complete rubbish, which is understandable I suppose because he didn't want to be labeled as one of the drivers that I was referring to (I didn't want to point out his lack of use of signal lights at this point...but....). My belief is that PEI people learn how to drive old trucks and tractors on their family farms as really young kids, and when they get out onto the real roads, they take their skills of farm driving along with them. Just a hypothesis at this point, but my research staff is going to start interviews very shortly.

Anyway, after a good and somewhat heated discussion, I came to the conclusion that I am a bit of a driving snob. At least I am willing to admit it, right? I think that's a good start. I believe that my whole driving snobbery all comes down to learning to drive in BC. We learn some very important skills when we learn to drive in BC. The first thing we master as young drivers is how to park on a hill. Very important because there are vast quantities of those things around that province. PEI doesn't have to deal with that problem, so they get a freebie on that one.
The second thing we learn is to be aggressive, especially if you live in a larger city or plan to visit larger cities. Sometimes the opportunity to pull out onto the highway only comes once every 5 minutes, so you have to take it when you can! That's where my major problem comes with PEI; no one is aggressive enough and everyone lets everyone go ahead of them. Now I know what you're all thinking. You're thinking that's because people from this province are kind and friendly, therefore they let people into traffic left and right and expect nothing except a little wave of appreciation in return. That's cool. I have no qualms with that. The thing is though, what they do is they get so involved with letting people into traffic that they noticeable obstruct traffic and seem to forget the basic rules of the road while doing it.
Which brings me to driving skill #3: know the rules of the road. BC has a lot of four way stops, therefore knowing who goes when and at what time, is extremely important unless you want some old lady in a green Volvo giving you the finger when you lead into the intersection at the wrong time.
The final crucial element that we BCers learn at a very young age, which is by far the most important of all in regards to driving on BC roads, is to always, and I mean always, avoid an Albertan driver at any cost. There is always a good chance that you will, a) get to your destination AT LEAST a half hour late if you are following one, b) rear-end an Albertan when they jam on their brakes when the road tragically bends at a 5 degree angle, c) develop such bad road-rage that you end up in an anger management course, and d) end up having to get your own brakes replaced because you get stuck following one and have to slam on your brakes every 20 seconds because BC has hills, dips and bends all over the place.

(This point brings me to a quick note on something that made me smile yesterday. When you move to a new part of the world, you forget about the weird little things that you experience reguarly in your old place of residence that are part of your everyday life that go completely unnoticed. There are two things that have happened recently that reminded me of home, and they're really weird. The first was when I smelled someone's car brakes a while back. There is a very distinct smell that brakes give when they are about to give-out, which is a smell that isn't common here because people don't brake as much here as they do in BC. The second was the sound of a semi-truck hauling down University Ave last night. It's such a common sound back home, and definitely not in Charlottetown, so the sound of a big-rig shifting gears acually made me happy. Yeah, I might needs medication to help with this problem.)

The last issue that we got into when discussing this whole good driving/bad driving topic was that he pointed out that PEI seems to have very few accidents and that we never hear of them around here, compared to other provinces at least. Me being the geek/snob that I am, looked it up on Stats Canada and found out that actually PEI has the third highest death rate in automobile accidents (per 100,000 people), with the Yukon and Saskachewan taking number 1 and 2...although I am shocked to hear about Saskachewan having such a high death rate considering there are nothing but straight roads in that province which go on, and on, and on, and on. BC was #7 on the list, and Ontario had the least amount of deaths (way to go!)

I apologize if I offended any PEIers or Albertans in this blog. I love all Canadians equally, just not their driving.

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