I had an experience on Christmas morning that makes me comment again about road safety. I was driving to Brantford on Cockshutt Road, and had a near-miss at Concession 10 Townsend Road with a minivan proceeding eastbound through the intersection. Essentially, he stopped at the stop sign (or came close, I'm not sure), then either didn't look both ways, or thought that it was a four-way stop (incorrectly) and failed to gauge my speed, and he proceeded through.
I didn't have a stop sign, and Cockshutt is an 80 zone at that point, so I was moving at a good clip. By the time I realized that he was going, I had just enough time to swerve to hug the right side of the intersection. Pretty sure he would have hit me had I gone straight.
Either he was completely oblivious to my presence (which would show a remarkable lack of attentiveness - these are straight roads with no vision obstructions, and I was right there), or he thought I was going to stop. Which is also pretty absurd...even if he thought I had a stop sign, even a brief glance at me should have told him that I was going too fast to stop in time.
Remember: Defensive driving isn't just a good idea; it's a legal obligation. So there are a couple of lessons to take from this.
Firstly, if you're not familiar with the intersection, pay very close attention to the stop sign. If it's an all-way stop, the sign will indicate it. Pretty important to know if traffic coming from either side has to stop or can normally just go through at a high speed. This was the minivan driver's first mistake, I think.
Secondly, look carefully at approaching traffic, even if you think that the intersection is an all-way stop. Ground-view, gauge it's speed...if the vehicle is close enough to matter, you should be able to determine if it's planning to stop at the intersection. This minivan driver didn't have the right of way, but even if he had, saying "I had the right of way" doesn't necessarily take away from his failure to keep a proper lookout and, more importantly, doesn't bring back people who may have been killed. (Minivan, Christmas morning, chances are that there were kids in that vehicle. It's an appalling lack of caution.)
The previous evening, I had been taking back roads home near Hamilton, and stopped at a four-way stop. I knew it was a four-way stop, but there was a vehicle approaching from my right that I wasn't sure was going to stop. I paused for long enough to be sure that he was going to stop. (He did, as happens the vast majority of the time...but occasionally people do blow through stop signs.) My passenger even felt the need to tell me that he had to stop - my response being that I knew that he had to, but wanted to make sure that he would.
The third lesson to take from it is that attention to the road is paramount, whether you're the one with the stop sign or without. I had very little time to react, just enough time to turn aside. I know my car's limitations well enough to know how much I can swerve safely, I knew that the road conditions were dry (and had already picked my speed accordingly), and the maneouver was an automatic reaction to a hazard. Had I allowed myself to be distracted, it could have had tragic results. Again, the fact that I had the right of way wouldn't make it any less tragic. People sometimes don't pay attention to the road, whether it's because they're talking on the phone, eating, doing make-up, reading(!), or searching the floor of the vehicle for something (I once had an oncoming car come into my lane when I could see the driver doing just that...I was able to avoid him, but imagine had I been doing something similar). You need to pay enough attention to not only avoid creating hazards, but also to make sure that you're able to respond to hazards as they arise.
This blog is not intended to and does not provide legal advice to any person in respect of any particular legal issue, and does not create a solicitor-client relationship with any readers, but rather provides general legal information. If you have a legal issue or possible legal issue, contact a lawyer.