Every time I drive to Vancouver I get reminded of a few things. Firstly, that British Columbia is a beautiful place, no matter the season. Though the Coquihalla is a fast-driving corridor, it is hard to escape the views that crowd your gaze as you make your way up and down the mountains.
The second thing I get reminded of is some drivers’ habits on the road. I touched on this before: there’s something unsettling about being tailgated. When the tailgater is driving a semi the unsettling morphs into terrifying. There was a lot of tailgating this time. Perhaps the approaching long weekend made everyone’s patience levels taper to a thread, yet the immutable laws of life and death dictate that caution is a must when on the road.
Here’s another aspect that adds to the problem: speed limits. For many, they are a mere suggestion. They are not. Driving within the 120km/h speed limit allows an ambitious (or hurried) driver to make good time to the Coast. Yet driving the speed limit and seeing cars and trucks, including the occasional ones with large size campers attached, drive like some apocalyptic chariots of fire were following close behind… it’s disconcerting to say the least.
This one camper caught my eye, likely due to the crazy wobbling of the gigantic thing. It had two bikes hanging at the back, one with a child’s seat attached, plus a sticker that said ‘King on board’. It’s been a while since the ‘Baby on board’ were created, now there’s a flood of kings and princesses on board, which is a whole troubling issue in itself but that’s for another time to discuss.
The sign and the child bike seat told of a small child in the truck. The speed, unfortunately, spoke volumes of the disregard for life in general. Driving fast when you’re in a sports car is one thing (still dangerous). Driving fast as if you’re driving a sports car, but are instead behind the wheel of a big truck with a camper attached is crazy and irresponsible.
To be fair, I did see more police cars on the highway than ever before. Each busy with a speeder. Maybe the reason was, once again, the approaching long weekend. Either way, I choose to entertain the fantasy of seeing even more police cars on the road from now on. There’s no perfect solution to anything, speeding included, but it’d be a start.
Life is precious and speed is deceiving in offering the plump yet often deadly promise of making time for more life to unfold. Furthermore, someone’s fast driving puts other people’s lives in danger. It takes the fun out of driving, it really does. As for the time gained, I am not even sure that’s what people are after. Life forces us in the fast lane sometimes, yet truth is, more often than not it is but bad planning that makes us floor the acceleration pedal. Because it’s easy to overlook what we stand to lose.
Leaving the drama of possible life loss aside, there is another kind of loss: opportunity to let your gaze sink into the landscape, listen to feel-good music or an book on CD. On top of it all, if you’re driving with children, younger or older, there’s always the opportunity to model the kind of behaviour and attitude you want to see them display as they grow up. Considerate and aware of the beauty and surrounds them, as well as imbued with the sense of responsibility that all drivers should display when behind the wheel.
As for the third thing the drive reminds me of, that is gratefulness. For returning home to Kamloops. A growing city it is, but still a slower-paced place where you can opt for the same should you feel like it. It makes for better quality of life. It makes for seeing and being present. If you happen to do that, even occasionally, you know how much there is to see.