Summer highway traffic inferno

Is it the heat that makes drivers go crazy on our highways?

I remember many a snowy day in Cranbrook, when the staff at the Townsman worried about me as I left at the end of the day for Kimberley.

I received tense phone calls and voicemails from my parents if I didn’t arrive exactly on time, but sure enough my tiny Toyota plowed through the white stuff every time.

The truth is, I worry more about my safety in the summer months. This week alone I have witnessed and almost been involved in two serious collisions that probably could have ended in a fatality – the second one would have been me.

I’ll start with that one. I went out for an interview and was returning via the Strip. I turned my right blinker on to pull into the Townsman and slowed down. Something in my rear-view mirror suddenly caught my eye.

I did a double take, and realized a giant, lifted black Ford truck was barreling towards me with no indication of braking, or even that they noticed the little black car they were about to smoosh like a candy wrapper. It must have been doubling the 60 km/hr speed limit. It kept coming, it was mere feet off my bumper, and like the mature adult I am, with no way to save myself, I covered my ears with my hands and screamed.

With wide eyes I watched the expected collision not happen. The black truck veered into the left lane, without signaling or even shoulder checking. They cut off a red truck that with a camper so badly that the driver had to swerve into the centre lane to avoid being side swiped.

The whole time, I saw not a glimmer of brake lights from the black truck. I realized once it was all over that my car was completely stopped in the middle of the Strip. Luckily there was no other traffic behind me.

I thought to myself that the driver of the black truck will never know how terrified I was in those few seconds. He wouldn’t know that I shook for an hour after he nearly killed me. I thought about how he probably would have sheered off the top of my tiny car like a monster truck. I possibly could have been tossed like a Frisbee into the Townsman sign, only to crumple against it in a heap like old laundry. Had I been able to think in those seconds, I would have written down his license plate and called the RCMP.

The first accident I witnessed this week was a comedy of errors from two drivers. I was leaving Marysville on my way to work. Rails to Trails was closed for maintenance, and a number of drivers were pulling in only to discover it was closed. Many were waiting to pull out on the highway, but one car just had to turn right away. Myself and two other cars were rounding the corner going under the speed limit (which is a problem on that highway in itself, but I won’t go there).

The car turned left with barely enough room to spare, and at the same moment, the driver in front of me decided he couldn’t wait to start going the speed limit. He pulled out to pass the car in front and I was positive I was about to see a brutal head-on collision.

The passing driver slammed on his brakes, and threw his car back into the lane in front of me – again with just feet to spare. I also slammed on my brakes in the same instant, hoping to avoid the spray of metallic shrapnel I thought was coming from the collision. That time my defensive driving skills that my Dad has been pounding into me since I was 16 kicked in (if I had a nickel for every time he’s told me to “Slow down!” or “Be careful!”).

You’d think the passing driver would have learned his lesson, but he didn’t. I watched him pass car after car with on-coming traffic, tail gating in between before I lost sight of him near Way-Lyn Ranch.

I lose sleep over these near-misses, and I wonder what the response would be if I had a chance to ask these drivers if it’s really worth it to get there seconds earlier.

Just Posted

The latest EKASS survey confirms a steady decline in substance use among EK youth over the years. (image compilation via Pixabay)
Latest survey shows steady decline in adolescent substance use over the years

Starting in 2002, the survey has been conducted every two years to monitor changes in substance use patterns, attitudes and behaviors amongst East Kootenay youth.

The Aquatic Centre at Western Financial Place.
Cranbrook Aquatic Center to close temporarily

The annual shutdown of the Aquatic Center at Western Financial Place will begin earlier than scheduled this year and does not have a defined end date at this time.

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

1914
It happened this week in 1914

June 6 -12: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers held at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday, June 10, mentioned Grand Forks among two other COVID “hot spots” in B.C. Photo: Screenshot - YouTube COVID-19 BC Update, June 10, 2021
PHO Henry says West Kootenay city is a COVID ‘hot spot’ in B.C.

There are 11 cases of COVID-19 in the Grand Forks local health area, according the BC CDC

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read