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Police Forum Police Head Mod: Skidmark
Questions & info about the Motor Vehicle Act. Mature discussion only.

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Old 11-04-2009, 10:09 AM   #1
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Column idea for skidmark: Driving on autopilot

IMHO, this is easily as big a danger on the road as "distracted" driving like using a cel phone. It's being distracted in a different way: putting your driving on autopilot and zoning out on the road.

Case in point (and the particular inspiration for this rant): the new Pitt River Bridge. Since I live in Pitt Meadows and work all over the LM, I've been looking forward to the completion of this thing for years. It's been opening in stages over the last couple months, with changes to traffic patterns every few weeks, with requisite changes to overhead signage, as well as lighted signs on the side announcing the changes...

And yet so many drivers appear to pay NO attention to the signs, they just follow their regular route on autopilot, follow the lines on the road... then commit dangerous maneuvers when they realize at the last second they're going the wrong way.

Originally, going westbound, after the old bridge, traffic for Lougheed would continue straight through both lanes, while the left lane split off to the Mary Hill Bypass - you'd get the odd time some clown would try to zip past the lineup on the left and then cut over from the right lane at the last instant, but at least they had generally planned the move ahead.

When the new bridge partially opened, the left of the three lanes leading up would go there, and the center lane would split with it, over the new deck and down to the MHB turn - the right lane and the split center lane continued over the old bridge to Lougheed. The abrupt split caused a little confusion and people slowing right down, but no unexpected or stupid moves.

But then the new bridge opened completely - now the RIGHT lanes go onto a ramp and overpass to the MHB, while the LEFT lanes continue straight through the Lougheed. There are tons of signs announcing this, as well as the requisite big lighted sign proclaiming TRAFFIC PATTERN CHANGE and detailing, MARY HILL USE RIGHT LANES, LOUGHEED USE LEFT LANES... yet for the first week, EVERY TIME I used the bridge, some idiot a couple cars ahead of me would realize at the last second that he was going the wrong way, cutting across the painted triangle splitting the center lane to go the other way. At the VERY last second. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

It's like, people don't pay any attention to where they're going, or to the signs... they just get in their usual lane and plow through, oblivious to the changes until it's too late.

I've also seen a few who obviously took the wrong turn and had to make a U-turn somewhere down the road and go back around...

If they just TURNED OFF THE AUTOPILOT and paid attention to the signage, they'd be fine. The construction has been going on for over two years, it's not like they wouldn't know changes were coming.
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Old 11-04-2009, 02:02 PM   #2
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the same thing happened when they put in a new light in Kelowna on a previously long, straight bit of road. The first night the lights were active, was the first night a guy blew through and t-boned a car. You can see the light for a good half km ahead of time but this guy wasn't paying any attention.
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Old 11-04-2009, 02:09 PM   #3
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Stats show that drivers are most likely to get involved in a crash in an area that they are TOO familiar with. They travel it so often that they just don't "See" what really is there. The traffic changes/ hazards etc just don't register on their psyche.
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Old 11-04-2009, 06:22 PM   #4
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^ I think drivers get involved in a crash in an area that they are TOO familiar with because those are the places where the drivers usually go.

It also reminds me of when Cambie St @ 57th Ave traffic lights were replaced by stop signs about a month ago.

Everyone was confused and stopped at the intersection when they had the right of way. And other drivers were honking and braking etc...
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Old 11-04-2009, 07:24 PM   #5
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Nope, if you spent 50% of your time driving in the same area, and the other 50% in completely new territory, you would be most likely to be in an at-fault collision in the area you are familiar with.
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Old 11-04-2009, 08:53 PM   #6
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Happened to me once too! When I lived in Penticton, I would turn left out of my driveway to go to work and there would be a school zone sign right in front of me. One day I noticed that a 30 km/h tab had magically appeared below the pentagon. Was this the first day the tab was there or the first day that I noticed it? I didn't know and was too embarrassed to ask....
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Old 11-04-2009, 09:38 PM   #7
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In another twist of irony, I was working in Richmond today and on the phone with my co-worker, who was driving from Maple Ridge to Coquitlam (yes, he was using a bluetooth headset)... he was commenting to me how nice the new bridge was, and as I was just about to tell him about this rant I posted this morning, he started swearing loudly at the driver immediately ahead of him who pulled this exact stunt... last-minute swing from the far right lane to the far left, across four lanes AND the painted divider, all in one abrupt move.
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Old 11-04-2009, 11:48 PM   #8
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^ well hey if they do it all at once it *almost* looks like a legitimate move

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Happened to me once too! When I lived in Penticton, I would turn left out of my driveway to go to work and there would be a school zone sign right in front of me. One day I noticed that a 30 km/h tab had magically appeared below the pentagon. Was this the first day the tab was there or the first day that I noticed it? I didn't know and was too embarrassed to ask....
The concerning thing was when I was in Nova Scotia (summer holiday), and we kept seeing these "School Zone End" signs, but never seeing the ones to start the school zone. We kept our eyes peeled but I guess they take them down for the summer out there? It scared us for the first day though.
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Old 11-05-2009, 08:25 AM   #9
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Happened to me once too! When I lived in Penticton, I would turn left out of my driveway to go to work and there would be a school zone sign right in front of me. One day I noticed that a 30 km/h tab had magically appeared below the pentagon. Was this the first day the tab was there or the first day that I noticed it? I didn't know and was too embarrassed to ask....
I was just gonna ask you about something kind of like that, on my commute they just changed the school zone from 30 km/h when children on highway to 30 km/h 8am-5pm, and the police had been sitting there every other day picking people off, a week or two after they changed the signs they finally put up 'traffic pattern changed' warning signs, is that a legit ticket or is there some sort of regulation about them having to put up changed traffic pattern warning signs? (i personally never got tagged, just curiosity's sake)
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Old 11-05-2009, 09:47 AM   #10
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I was just gonna ask you about something kind of like that, on my commute they just changed the school zone from 30 km/h when children on highway to 30 km/h 8am-5pm, and the police had been sitting there every other day picking people off, a week or two after they changed the signs they finally put up 'traffic pattern changed' warning signs, is that a legit ticket or is there some sort of regulation about them having to put up changed traffic pattern warning signs? (i personally never got tagged, just curiosity's sake)
You'd expect the court to have leniency because you were driving on autopilot and not paying attention to the road and its signage?

Don't think that'll happen.
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Old 11-05-2009, 03:21 PM   #11
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its not like they're adding another sign or anything like that though, just swapping one little white one with a bunch of writing for another little white one with a bunch of writing
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Old 11-05-2009, 08:07 PM   #12
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What happens if they change the speed sign to a lower speed? Think you'll get out of a speeding ticket because the speed you were doing USED to be legal? What if they change a yield sign into a stop sign? Suppose ICBC will reduce you from 100% blame when you blow through and hit someone? NBL, dude.

You have to drive according to what the signs ARE NOW, not by what you remember them to be sometime in the past.
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Old 11-05-2009, 09:38 PM   #13
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I'm well aware of that, just seems like a cheap move changing small less noticeable signage (all the big writing is the same, just the subtext is different) and camping out. When they change a yield into a stop or reduce the speed limit they put up "traffic pattern changed" signage. 2 weeks of me driving through there twice a day and a conservative estimate of 25% of the time i drove through there they had someone pulled over
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Old 11-05-2009, 09:40 PM   #14
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they upped the speed (crazy I know) on a stretch in Kelowna and I think I was the only one to notice for a long time. They had signs announcing the speed change but people still gave me dirty looks for passing them in the right lane because they were clogging up the left lane going 60 when the limit was 70.
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Old 11-05-2009, 09:56 PM   #15
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I'm well aware of that, just seems like a cheap move changing small less noticeable signage (all the big writing is the same, just the subtext is different) and camping out. When they change a yield into a stop or reduce the speed limit they put up "traffic pattern changed" signage. 2 weeks of me driving through there twice a day and a conservative estimate of 25% of the time i drove through there they had someone pulled over
You know, they MAY have just been handing out warnings...
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Old 11-05-2009, 10:46 PM   #16
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they very well could have been, but seems to me theres better usages to all those man hours when they could just put up a 50 dollar sign
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Old 11-05-2009, 11:52 PM   #17
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Because a $50 sign isn't going to be nearly as effective? People will just zone out on that too... or they'll look around for some construction or something, not see it, and assume the sign is obsolete. This was the whole point of my rant: people on the road tune out what's happening around them, and they don't even need in-car distractions to do it. All the signage in the world (including the huge lighted TRAFFIC PATTERN CHANGE sign following *YEARS* of construction) hasn't gotten through to drivers at the Pitt River Bridge, why would it be any more effective approaching a school zone?
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Old 11-06-2009, 06:09 AM   #18
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OK, here's a really stupid suggestion. When they change the traffic pattern and put up warning signs telling everybody they have AND the new sign...if you are a local resident, you can disobey the sign for a period of 1 month..or so. Police will only be permitted to ticket drivers who are NOT from the area, as they can actually see the new signs and obey them. That should work well with stop signs, yeh.
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Old 11-06-2009, 12:05 PM   #19
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kinda off topic but how do you think the car of the future will handle traffic changes



Cars are approaching ‘auto’ pilot mode
With humans known to be unreliable sorts, vehicles get helping ‘hands’


Its bad enough with drivers blindly following their GPS devices into trouble ,but now they can blame their cars for their issues.
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Old 11-08-2009, 10:18 AM   #20
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I can only hope the car will handle traffic changes a lot better than the drivers of today do!
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Old 11-08-2009, 04:58 PM   #21
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What happens if they change the speed sign to a lower speed? Think you'll get out of a speeding ticket because the speed you were doing USED to be legal? What if they change a yield sign into a stop sign? Suppose ICBC will reduce you from 100% blame when you blow through and hit someone? NBL, dude.

You have to drive according to what the signs ARE NOW, not by what you remember them to be sometime in the past.
I'm with Stevo on this one.

It's a subtle change with big implications. It's pretty easy at quick glance to tell the difference between yield and stop signs. It's also pretty easy to see when a new sign has been installed where there previously was no sign.

If you know that a particular intersection prohibits you from making a left turn during the hours of 4-6, do you make it a rule to check and verify EVERY TIME you pass through that intersection that the sign hasn't changed?
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Old 11-09-2009, 12:44 AM   #22
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If you know that a particular intersection prohibits you from making a left turn during the hours of 4-6, do you make it a rule to check and verify EVERY TIME you pass through that intersection that the sign hasn't changed?
I'm sure most people don't... but does that mean they shouldn't? You still have to obey what the sign DOES say, not what YOU THINK it says... or said. At what point does leniency stop? If you drive the route daily, how long should you be allowed to disobey the new sign before you notice that it's changed? A day? A week? A month? What if you only drive that route weekly? Or monthly?
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Old 11-09-2009, 01:16 AM   #23
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well that's the thing, you're supposed to always check the sign yet minimize the time you spend checking signs. so you don't want to keep looking at the same sign if you dont need to, but the only way to know if you need to check it or not is to check it.
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Old 11-09-2009, 09:23 AM   #24
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We're given months of media coverage about possible cell phone bans followed by months of coverage about an actual ban with a solid date the ban takes effect, with police providing a grace period for people to adjust.

I *should* be reviewing the MVA and all associated highway laws once a month to see if they change, but I typically don't.

A "silent" change like that school zone sign should, IMO, be marked with one of those "NEW" signs with black and yellow lines all around it for a couple of weeks to draw people's attention to it. That would be the "education" part of it.

Even Skidmark above mentioned seeing a new sign he wasn't sure existed prior to noticing it on a route he drove regularly.
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Old 11-09-2009, 09:09 PM   #25
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Northbound on Glenlyon Way turning left onto Marine Way, they changed it so that it's only the left lane that is left turn only and the right lane is straight through. It used to be both left and right lanes can turn left because there was no road to go straight through yet. That happened a few months ago. Today, I still see people turning left from the right lane, even though they repainted the ground so you can see that you have to go straight in the right lane. I see people in the left lane and switch to the right because there are a lot of cars on the left lane. It's really annoying when I see all these people breaking the rule there just cause they were able to do it before and they just ignore it. I really wish they will have some officers there ticketing people for doing that left turn from the right lane. It's been about half a year already and they still do it. It's an industrial area and most people who drive there, do so regularly and I'm sure half of them ignore the sign just due to convenience.
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