The Problems with the 401

I recently had the pleasure of driving in France and when I came home to Canada and the road rage immediately came back to me and after a couple of weeks of reflection, I’ve come to a few conclusions for what is wrong with our Canadian highways.

The Speed Limit
On Canadian highways, the speed limit is 100km/h.  The problem with that is that it’s not at all enforced.  Most officers will only ever pull you over if you’re driving erratically or if you’re going above 120km/h because just like us, they find that 100km/h isn’t a fair limit.  Because the limit is 100km/h and most people don’t do that limit, the problem is that you have many drivers all doing different speeds in all different lanes.  This causes frustration and is generally unsafe.

DSC_7240corrIn France the highway speed limit varies depending on the terrain and the surroundings.  In the city you’re limited to 90km/h in the middle of the country the limit climbs up to 130km/h.  This is strictly monitored by photo-radar and when the limit changes from 130 to 110 you will see a sea of brake lights as the whole stream of traffic slows to enter the new speed zone.

The Trucks
Tractor trailers in Canada vary in speed from 100km/h to 120km/h and because they are so large when other drivers are passing them they end up matching their speed subconsciously.  You’ll seen it time and time again, a blimp race in the two right lanes and a lagging driver in the fast lane who was doing 120km/h previously but dropped down to 110km/h while passing the trucks.

The trucks in the EU are limited to a varying maximums of 80, 90, or 100km/h no matter what the speed limit is so while cars are doing 130km/h they can easily pass a truck.  A 40km/h difference in speed is impossible for a driver to fall into subconscious speed match situation.

Staying Right
Countless drivers in Canada drive in the middle and left lanes constantly.  I cannot count the amount of times that I’ve been able to drive faster than everyone in the middle and fast (left) lanes while driving in the right lane.  I’m not sure if it’s laziness or a complete lack of attention but it means that I’m passing on the right which is not as safe as passing on the left.

If you aren’t passing another vehicle, you should always be in the right lane.  If you are being passed by people on your right that means you’re going too slow to be in the lane you’re in, stop trying to be a noble human and single handedly slow down the highway.  Get over to the right and let those who want to drive faster do so.  It’s safer for everyone and their sanity.

Pay Attention
This shouldn’t be a shock to people, you absolutely must be paying attention while driving.  Check your rear-view mirror frequently to be sure that when you’re not in the right lane, there aren’t faster cars coming up behind you that you need to either speed up for or move to the right for.

In France, three times I watched drivers indicating to the drivers in
front of them to move over to the right lane because they were slowing
down traffic.  In Canada we sit idly behind the slow drivers as our blood boils, if people paid attention and it was socially inappropriate to slow down the cars behind you like it is in France, the highways would be safer and more relaxed.

Hills and Turns
Another huge beef comes with hills and turns in the highway.  Countless drivers drop their speed 20-30km/h because of these simple “obstacles” which occur often on the highways in Canada.  It comes back to paying attention to the road and that your environment has changed.  You should get over and let others pass you if you want to slow down up a hill or keep your constant speed.

Conclusions
You must always drive in the right lane.  Always.  No exceptions.
You must always pay attention while driving, especially when passing other vehicles.  If someone wants to pass you, let them!

Author: Ian

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