By Jordan W. Charness

I’ve driven cars all over the world, and it’s amazing to see the different temperaments that drivers have and how people change when they get behind the wheel of a car. The standard joke in many countries is, “What is the definition of a nanosecond?” Answer: “the time it takes between the light in front of you turning green and the guy behind you honking his horn!”

Fortunately, drivers in Canada tend to be a little more relaxed and polite. Generally speaking they will actually give you a few seconds before beeping a gentle reminder for you to move on – or so I thought.

According to law in every province, a horn is only to be used in case of emergency. It is there strictly to alert people to a danger and may only be for safety’s sake. In most places, it is a ticketable offence to honk your horn in order to alert the person you are picking up that you have arrived in front of their door (that’s what a cell phone is for… at least when you’re parked!). Nor is it to be used to get the guy ahead of you to move on.

A few days ago I was in a left turn lane waiting for the advanced green to come on giving priority to a left-hand turn. The lady in front of us was stopped about a metre and a half from the stop line. Oddly enough the light never changed to green. It went through three cycles without ever giving a priority green. The line of cars behind me grew to about 20 cars all waiting to make the left-hand turn. Not a single one of them ever honked their horns.

I finally realized that the lady ahead had not pulled up enough to place her car over the magnetic sensors that would trigger the priority green light. I got out and politely told her about it. She moved up. The light changed to green, and all 20 cars made it through the priority left – all without a single sound of discontent.

Contrast that with the drive I took the other day as a passenger with my 16-year-old daughter as an apprentice driver. She had only been behind the wheel of the car a few times and was understandably cautious before heading into traffic.

Of course, she came to complete stop at stop signs and waited to be sure that no car would get in her way when it was time for her to move on. To my great surprise, at least three or four cars throughout the afternoon beeped her from behind while she was deciding whether or not it was safe to go. These inconsiderate boobs, in addition to using their horns illegally, also made her even more nervous while driving.

I explained to her that she should just ignore them and concentrate on making the safest possible decision. After all, the person behind her has no idea what she sees or why she is waiting and is just, as I mentioned, an inconsiderate boob.

It’s probably a lesson we can all learn.

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