I just can’t see it
I think we’ve all heard the saying “you can’t see the forest because of the trees”, but sometimes it should be “you can’t see the road because of the hedges”. Having good visibility is the key to entering intersections safely, but sometimes it can be tough to see clearly enough to proceed into intersection. What do you do if trees or hedges are blocking your view?
Back in 1988 when I first became a driving instructor with Young Drivers of Canada I began teaching two sisters how to drive. They lived on a corner lot and had hedges surrounding their property. It was always a little difficult for them, and me, to see past these hedges to know it if was safe to enter the intersection after stopping at the stop sign.
After a couple of weeks of lessons, I went back to their house to pick them up and the hedges were cut down to half the size. They were only roughly two feet off the ground now. When I asked one of the two sisters why they were cut, they explained their dad had taken them out to practice and wasn’t happy that they couldn’t see past their own hedges. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could trim the hedges of other homeowners so you could safely see? I understand how nice the hedges look surrounding property, but if it makes it difficult for you and other road users to see if it’s clear to enter the intersection, maybe homeowners could do something to help their fellow drivers in their community, as the father of my former students did? Just a thought.
With the weather becoming increasingly warmer, we’re seeing more cyclists, pedestrians and skateboarders out and about. If you can’t see them because of high hedges or larger parked vehicles they most likely can’t see you either. If they aren’t drivers they won’t think like drivers. Most younger cyclists or pedestrians trust that drivers will look out for them and will also feel that they have the right of way at the corner. We’ve often heard people say pedestrians have the right of way. That’s not always true.
Right of way is something that is given, not taken. In other words, you never have it unless the other person gives it to you. The cyclist or pedestrian may feel the same way and just keep going as you decide to go as well, mainly because no one can really see each other or are even looking for each other. That’s not a good idea since as a driver you need to take the lead in road safety. This also means you need to ensure it always safe before entering the intersection. Does this sound too obvious? Maybe, but since pedestrians and cyclists are often struck at blind corners, then it’s not as obvious as we may think.
To help other drivers enter intersections safely you should also put some thought to where you park your vehicle. Poor visibility also comes from drivers parking too close to the corner. If you have a larger vehicle like a truck, SUV or minivan, it could block our view and force drivers to slowly creep into the intersection – provided drivers actually do creep to improve their visibility. To those drivers who just enter the intersection without ensuring their visibility first, they may be the type of drivers who are likely to crash into more than vehicles. If your visibility is poor, do something to help improve it. Work together and never assume it’s safe to enter unless you know it’s safe to enter.