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rules of the road

As soon as the weather starts to warm up, they pop up everywhere like dandelions or General Motors Co. recalls.

They strike fear in the hearts of drivers and leave them dazed and confused – even more than usual.

Anyone who has found themselves behind the wheel the past few months knows exactly what I'm talking about: those orange road construction cones that might as well be accompanied by a sign that says "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here."

Orange is not the new black. It's the new hell.

The sight of those cones can instantly transform even the best drivers into brainless sociopaths bent either on self-destruction or the destruction of others – or, more commonly, both.

It's not hard to see why. For one, those in charge of lane closures and practitioners of the dark art of coneology obviously have the sadistic bent of tax collectors, following a strict code designed to keep motorists in a permanent state of chaos. For example:

1. Never notify drivers more than 20 metres ahead of the construction zone that their lives are about to be forever changed.

2. Avoid laughing out loud when you see drivers' reactions to the "Construction for the next 1,200 kilometres" sign. Instead, record them on your cellphone and save the hilarity for the company Christmas party. (Little-known fact: The guys who appear to be standing around watching other workers are usually camera operators.)

3. Ensure that no "Detour" sign is followed by any other signs, thus sending drivers on a detour to nowhere.

4. Make sure all roads under construction lead only to other roads under construction whenever possible.

Since most drivers have trouble negotiating roads and following directions even under ideal conditions, this guarantees mayhem. Throw in a series of lane closures, confusing signs and the need to slow down – a requirement that violates the DNA of most drivers – and you get chaos on the level of a Toronto Maple Leafs board meeting.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that drivers have apparently developed their own immutable code:

1. As soon as you even sense a lane closure, drive as fast as you can to get ahead of rival motorists – preferably in the lane that is about to be closed.

2. When others try to merge because of a lane closure, stare straight ahead like a cast member on The Walking Dead to avoid the slightest chance of letting another driver ahead of you. Remember: Courtesy is a sign of weakness.

3. Always have your fist clenched so you can shake it at other drivers without a moment's hesitation.

4. Treat the flagman's "Slow" sign as a suggestion, along the lines of "Dry Clean Only." As for the "Stop" sign, it applies only to the driver behind you.

The sad fact is that the long months of road construction Canadians face every year create the perfect conditions for bad driving – and most of us live up to that challenge.

If you have questions about driving or car maintenance, please contact our experts at

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