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Drive Culture Beware these traditional Thanksgiving traffic turkeys

Like all stupid decisions, it sprang from hope. In this case, the hope that it would take a reasonable amount of time to drive from Yonge and Shuter to the Gardiner Expressway – a distance of 1.5 kilometres – at 5:30 on a Friday afternoon.

The trip, according to Google Maps, should have taken six minutes. The traffic was so bad, however, so congested and stifled, that the journey took almost an hour. Right after my seventh or eighth bout of profanity and my seventeenth exclamation of, “I will never do this again,” I was hit by an alarming thought:

People are going to try to do this the Friday afternoon of the Thanksgiving long weekend!

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The horror. The horror.

These Thanksgiving hopefuls will hit the road with dreams of poultry and pumpkin pie and wind up bitter, broken remnants of a horror-show commute. They may not be trapped on Yonge Street, but they’ll be stuck somewhere – On the 401, on the 417, on Highway 1. Whomever turns up Friday evening at Grandma’s, Nonna’s, Oma’s, Abuela’s, Bubbie’s, Nainai’s or Nani’s will be worn, wan ghosts of the people who set out on the Thanksgiving Odyssey.

They’ll have had their fill of automotive Thanksgiving turkeys.

Perhaps it doesn’t have to be this way? After all, “forewarned is forearmed.” So keep an eye out for these varieties of “fowl” Thanksgiving driving frustrations. You could alleviate some of the aggravation.

The wingman

I saw a flock of these fellows the Friday afternoon I was stuck in purgatory. Wingmen spring up at times of intense traffic congestion, like Thanksgiving traffic. They creep along in the left lane of a two-lane street that’s jammed up. Instead of driving straight when they get to the intersection, they make an illegal right turn. Instead of one car turning right, there’s two. It’s dangerous because the wingman can’t see pedestrians crossing, as his view is blocked by the car making a legal right turn. The wingman can’t see that the other driver has braked to allow a pedestrian to cross and runs the risk of hitting them.

Il Tacchino tailgater

The intense and obstinate Il Tacchino (“Turkey”) Tailgater is found speeding on the highway. In a perverse way, he’s like an ostrich that sticks its head in the sand. The ostrich isn’t safer, but its small brain feels safer. Tailgating six inches behind a car accomplishes nothing, except to increase the chances of an accident, but it makes Il Tacchino Tailgater’s small brain feel like he’s getting somewhere faster. For this bird, that’s close enough.

‘Orange Blaze Stuffing’

Everyone knows that Thanksgiving is one of the worst times to travel, right?

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Wrong. There is one particular group of oblivious people. We call them civil engineers, transport bureaucrats and construction overseers. These folks must not be aware, otherwise why would lanes be closed for construction during the Thanksgiving weekend, making traffic even worse? Think of seemingly unnecessary construction on the Thanksgiving weekend as “orange stuffing” clogging up highways and city streets. You’ll gaze in wonder upon lines of orange blaze pylons and yield signs stretching as far as the eye can see, but you spy nary a construction worker on the job. They’re all on holiday.

Fowl fliers

Congestion. Construction. Cranberry Sauce. It’s a bad combination.

During the Thanksgiving migration, certain drivers lose their composure. They try to beat the odds by speeding and weaving through traffic. These fowl fliers believe even a few minutes shaved off a long and tiresome trek are worth the risks. Luckily, they’re easy to spot. They’re hell-bent, yet often distracted by mobile devices. They’re late and angry or not early enough and fed-up. Avoid them at all costs.

Remember – Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful. Drive carefully and make sure we all get home with something to celebrate.

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