We believe that travelling on the wrong side of the road should kill someone. But sometimes good luck prevails.
On Sunday, September 12, 21, I was travelling westbound along Brydges Street in London and approaching a right curve that would take us to Hale Street. The general area is shown in the Googlemaps images below.
I have driven this road for decades. Yet upon passing through the curve and entering the L-turn lane I became puzzled by the road markings. It was as if the left turn lane was no longer there. The photos below show the site in the summer of 2021 before the roadway markings were changed.
After driving through the site on September 12, 2021 I returned to understand what had taken place. The two photos below were taken on this return trip.
Clearly, on my initial westbound travel through the site I entered into what I thought was the left turn lane when, in fact, there was no longer a left-turn lane. Thus I was travelling on the wrong side of the road. But the old road markings were still visible, though less prominent. I wanted to see if I was the only one fooled by this road marking so I set up a video camera and documented westbound vehicles for 15 minutes. In those 15 minutes I observed 12 westbound vehicles making left turns onto Hale Street. Of those 12, 8 vehicles ended travelling onto the old left-turn lane and thus were travelling on the wrong side of the road. An example of one of those vehicles is shown in the images below.
After observing these results I telephoned the City of London Police informing them of the vehicles travelling on the wrong side of the centre-line. Subsequently the City installed new traffic cones as shown in the following images taken on September 19, 2021.
It is revealing that, while videotaping vehicles travelling onto the wrong side of the road a female resident approached me and said it was illegal for me to videotape residents in her neighbourhood. This person reported that she was a member of the local neighbourhood watch program and she would call the police if I did not leave. Upon inviting her to call police she left. But before so I asked: “If you part of neighbourhood watch, why are you not aware of traffic problems occurring in front of your house?” This illustrates how little knowledge the general public has of even basic safety problems occurring in front of them.
This example demonstrates how errors can be made, not only by drivers, but by roadway construction crews, and city officials. Sometimes dangerous situations are so obvious that they can be corrected quickly. But many times they are less obvious. Drivers will often accommodate and adjust their driving to design flaws and maintenance failures thus prolonging the time before a problem is detected. A crucial element in this process is the timely inspection of roads by qualified personnel who are properly trained to detect safety problems. With the enactment of Ontario’s Municipal Act along with Ontario’s Minimum Maintenance Standards there is no longer a provincial watch-dog that forces municipalities to follow uniform methods of maintenance and inspection of roadways. Ontario’s Minimum Maintenance Standards have been developed by an umbrella group that exists to defend municipalities from civil suits while there is no entity in existence that can level the playing field to ensure that the public is properly protected.
Police forces in Ontario have come to the understanding that they are no responsible for monitoring roadway safety problems. Nor are police personnel trained to detect these problems. Thus a member of the public may be protected from a drunk driver yet may die from a road safety problem with no official entity available to prevent that occurrence.