If Abbotsford police get their way, people my age will soon have to display the letter “M” in their windshields to warn other drivers that the person behind the wheel is “mature.”
Okay, not really. But police in the Fraser Valley community did unveil a mockup of the warning sign earlier this week as a way of drawing attention to the fact that experienced drivers – mature drivers – caused the majority of fatal crashes over the past two years.
Constable Ian MacDonald says contrary to what you might think, it’s not the 22-year-old in the white Acura that just passed you on the right doing 160 kilometres an hour in a 50 zone on his way to a street race who’s the big problem.
It’s people in their 40s, not signalling, not checking over their shoulders or bothering to look in their rearview mirrors.
Novice drivers of course must display a green letter “N” on their cars.
Learners bear the scarlet “L” under the province’s graduated licensing program.
A few years ago, Vancouver police floated the idea of making people who had been convicted of drunk driving display a red letter “D.”
And so, with M, D, N and L now used up, 22 perfectly good letters remain.
Letters that could be put to good use:
A: The rules of decency guiding this newspaper prevent me from spelling this one out, but it’s exactly what you think. Think anatomy. Think of the driver, seated.
B: Braker. A driver who brakes for no reason. The road ahead is clear, not an obstacle in sight, and yet the brake lights flash and the front end dips in the middle of every block.
C: Cellphone. Yes, I know – this can’t possibly be happening because talking on a handheld cellphone is illegal now.
E: Eater. Drivers who are munching on a burger and fries or a more complicated meal that involves the use of plastic cutlery and condiments.
F: Frustrated. Impatient drivers who behave like the woman in that Grey Power commercial. “You don’t drive like her…”
G: Geriatric. People whose adult children don’t have the guts to tell mom or dad that it’s time to hang up the keys.
H: Hog. As in road hog. The person who never moves aside to let you pass on a narrow side street, and, when you are forced to move over, fails to wave or otherwise acknowledge the courtesy.
I: iPod. Drivers who listen to their iPods (with ear buds) while driving because they didn’t want to spring for the CD changer or the adapter kit.
J: Jerk. See “A.”
K: Kids. The driver who is trying to control three warring children in the back seat while trying to retrieve a juice box from behind the passenger seat.
O: Obscene gesture. At the slightest provocation. It’s like a tic.
P: Pervert. Middle-aged men who slow down to leer at women. Especially on Cornwall Street in July and August.
Q: Q-tip. The use thereof. Covers all forms of personal hygiene that should not be performed while driving.
R: Rocker. Metallica blaring from speakers, windows open, head-banging, possibly drumming on dashboard with actual drumsticks. Go Garth.
S: Signaler (last minute). Drivers who sit in the left lane at an intersection and only signal their intention to turn left when the light turns green, leaving the line of traffic behind them waiting for the next light. Also applies to people who fail to signal at all.
T: Tourist. Because it’s not always easy to spot a rental car. Expect erratic behaviour.
U: Underslept. May also be displaying “K.” Nodding off at red lights, veering into oncoming traffic.
V: Visual impairment. Not so severe that they’re prohibited from driving, but enough that they can’t see pedestrians.
W. Wide turner. Drivers who are incapable of moving into the right lane before making a right turn. Think their Civic needs the same berth as a logging truck.
X: X-rated. Public displays of affection that border on soft-core porn at red lights.
Y: Yapper. Person who never stops talking to passengers. Gestures dangerously and fails to pay attention.
Z: Zilch. How much consideration this driver will give anyone else on the road. Redundant if placed on a BMW.
Stephen Quinn is the host of On the Coast on CBC Radio One, 690 AM and 88.1 FM in Vancouver.