Passing on Small Highways 
This is in response to this past weekends letters in the Star Wheels Section.

Specifically, to this letter by John Mason:

On many two-lane highways the road expands to permit passing. The problem is at the end when there is a merge back to two lanes. Who should allow the other vehicle in?

In Newfoundland, we are left in no doubt. The left lane has the words YIELD painted on it.

In other areas, drivers are left in doubt. In Ontario, the dotted line continues to the shoulder.

So the choice for a driver who has moved right to allow passing is to push sideways, or slow down, or stop, or to stay in the lane, be forced onto the shoulder and eventually into the rhubarb. And this does happen.

It makes sense to me that the vehicle that has moved over to permit a faster vehicle to pass should have right of way. The passing vehicle the vehicle that is probably over the speed limit should be responsible to care for the vehicle overtaken. Newfoundland has it right!

John Mason, Nobel

I think John, or perhaps myself, misunderstands the reason for the widening of smaller highways to allow for passing. Maybe we can hash this out here.

Markham road north of the city is a good example of this. For the most part, the road is a 2 lane highway but around many intersections with traffic lights, it opens up to 4 lanes to allow for passing. John implies that slower traffic should move to the right and allow faster traffic to pass but I believe the opposite to be true. I believe the road opens to allow through traffic to pass slower drivers and, more importantly, those who are waiting at the intersection to make a left turn where no left-turn lane is provided.

While slower drivers simply continue in the continuing lane, faster traffic is provided this opportunity to pass them in the temporary right hand lane. While this may contravene the practice used on expressways, I don't believe that "left lane hogging" logic applies since the right lane is quite short and temporary. It cannot be expected that slower traffic would pull into it.

With all this in mind, I believe it is the responsibility of those in the right lane, which is ending, to safely merge to the left. Since it is their lane that is ending, and not that of the drivers in the left lane, it is up to them to find a suitable spot to safely merge. Those in the left lane are not changing lanes. Their lane continues. Those in the right are changing lanes and thus have the responsibility to do so properly.

They should act exactly as they would on an expressway onramp. If they actually make it to the point where the dotted line ends their lane, then they've already failed to merge properly and it's their own fault that they now have to wait for an opening in traffic to safely pull in.

People in this province seem to have no clue when it comes to proper merging. I believe that as soon as you know that your lane is ending, you should be looking for a proper space to merge and matching speed with the traffic you're trying to merge into. Anyone that gets to the end of their merging lane without doing so has given up their right to courtesy from the lane they're attempting to join.

While I am quite happy to allow merging traffic to pull in front of me, I will not allow it at the end of their lane. At that point, they have already failed as drivers and for all I care, they can drive themselves into the wall if they don't feel like stopping and waiting for an opening.

Whether it's from their lack of driving know-how or their selfish attempts to get just a few car-lengths ahead in the other lane, they've expended their space to manoeuvre and are now on their own to deal with the consequences.

In all my years of driving, it is a most rare occurance that I've found myself in that predicament through no fault of my own and I refuse to accept that I am simply the luckiest merger alive.

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Car Salespeople Are Lying To Me 
When shopping for a limited production car, apparently the number of cars being made for Canada is entirely dependant on how much pressure the salesperson feels they need to apply to get you to decide you can afford something you can't afford.

I think when I actually have the money to buy a car, I'm just going to keep talking to salespeople until I find one that I think might be talking straight to me. I'm getting pretty sick of being openly lied to.

On a related note, should a salesperson really be offended when you make it clear that you know more about the car you're talking about than they do?

"Hey... this is an option on that car over there. Do you know if it's dealer installed or whether the car has to be ordered with it?"

"No, that's not an option."

"Yes it is. I know it is."

"No, I don't think it is."

"Listen... I think I know more about these cars than you do... is there maybe someone else you can check with to find out for me?"

"I'm sorry... I'm new here... "

Then they still didn't try to answer my question.

Isn't it their job to know more? Shouldn't they at least make an attempt to find out what you're asking rather than just making stuff up?

I'd much rather have them say "I don't know, but I'll go find out for you" than just start making up crap. Idiots.

Finally... here's my car-buying advice for today: Don't go shopping for a car when you don't plan to buy one for half a year or so. It just gets you all worked up over nothing. :)

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Features for Rich People 
My wife and I will be buying a car in the next year.

I want adaptive cruise control.

It's a cool feature and I should be able to have it. How often have to followed someone on a long trip where they are able to set their cruise but you have to continually adjust yours because you can never get it exactly the same.

This feature resolves that. The person in front sets their cruise and everyone else just uses radar to maintain a set distance from the car in front of them.

The problem is that only rich people can have this. The Wiki page on the topic lists a bunch of cars that have it and I can't afford any of them.

Stupid rich folk feature!

I'll bet a year after I buy something, every new car coming to market is going to have this.

Y'all can refer back to this when the 08 models hit the showrooms and laugh at me.

Incidentally... maybe it's just about time to buy a wagon. No adaptive cruise control... but I probably won't miss it in that thing.

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A Faster Car is a Safer Car 
I couldn't help but post this up. I've been saying this for years and everyone always scoffs at the idea.

At least I'm not the only one.

Here is a link to the whole article. It talks about how it's impossible to drive a performance car to it's full potential on the streets here within the confines of our laws.

Here is the gem though:

There's an important thing to understand about fast cars, though. A faster car is a safer car. All of the things that make a car fast a powerful engine, big tires, suspension that hugs the road also mean it's able to get out of sticky situations faster.

When passing on a two-lane road, you're not exposed to oncoming traffic as long, because you're able to accelerate faster. More grip makes it easier to swerve around situations that slower cars might not have the time or space to avoid.

Most important of all, most fast cars (and there are unfortunately a few exceptions) also have much deeper reserves of braking performance than slower cars, meaning you can more likely stop short of an accident instead of becoming one. Mercedes-Benz's SL55 not only has huge eight-piston front calipers and vented discs, but also senses when it's raining and gently applies the brakes every once in a while to keep them dry and ready for action.

Now if only I could find the link I once had to statistics showing that cars with more than 200 hp get in less accidents than those with less.

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Car shopping: Don't compare prices on the Internet. 
It's downright criminal how much cheaper cars are in the States than they are here in Canada.

Do we all like compact cars because we take pride in our environmental responsibility... or are we just overtaxed and overcharged to the point where we just can't afford the nicer cars that the average American can put in their driveway?

If I were an American, I could get a Subaru Impreza WRX STI with all the options I want for $34,480.

If I convert that generously to Canadian dollars, it would be $38,617.

Now if I go price the same car on the Canadian Subaru site, it comes to $51,038. WTF? Why am I paying an extra $12k just because I live on this side of the border?

This holds true for pretty much every car on the market.

So basically, I'm gettiong a car worth thousands of dollars less than what I'm paying. Thanks big car corporations for bending me over and sticking it to me. I appreciate it. Really.

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