Watch the above webcam showing traffic and pedestrians at the intersection of Broadway and First Street, in downtown Orangeville. If you watch for several minutes, you are likely to see some of the worse drivers in the world, carelessly blowing through red lights, making left turns and cutting off pedestrians, and other dangerous and risky behaviour.
I’ve been familiar with the Orangeville area for many many years – decades in fact, and I know that up until the 1990’s, both walking and driving in and around Orangeville was generally a pleasant experience. A small town where courtesy toward others reigned, and almost everyone said “Hello” to each other. I still do a lot of walking around town, and can say the experience has gone from pleasant to sometimes being almost hazardous to one’s health and safety. The reason? Far too many ignorant, discourteous, and in a rush motorists in this town.
I don’t really care about drivers that might be doing 15 km/h over the posted speed limit on the outskirts of town. I think many of those posted speeds are not much more than radar traps for the police to be able to pad their stats while working on their weekly/monthly quotas. Oooops… sorry.. there are no “quotas,” so perhaps “benchmark” is a better word.
What I do care about is pedestrian safety and the outright lack of care by many of the motorists driving around town in Orangeville. And from my observations, this is a genderless issue as well; many perceive female drivers to be the ones that would take more care while driving, but my experiences show that neither males or females, or even older drivers vs. younger drivers have a monopoly on idiotic driving.
I can point to just as many occasions of being nearly struck by a careless mature woman driver as I can to the same type of carelessness of a testosterone boosted youthful male. Lack of courtesy and selfish risky behavior seems to have no boundaries. No matter what part of town you are in, the ubiquity of horrible driving is evident.
One of the worse cases that I have experienced was crossing north at Broadway and First Street on the east side of the intersection. Broad daylight, and carrying my son in my arms; he was about two years old at the time. A stupid driver turned left onto Broadway from First Street – with her head looking down at her mobile phone! She was not even looking at where she was going and came within inches of striking me while I was carrying my son across the road. When I shouted at her, she just looked up and then carried on as if she had done nothing wrong.
There have been many similar incidents at other intersections in Orangeville. It seems that many drivers only look one way nowadays when approaching an intersection, in order to see how fast they might be able to blow past the stop sign and make their turn. There is no sense that pedestrians or kids on skateboards or bicycles just might be about to cross the intersection from the opposite direction that the driver is looking in.
I fully realize that pedestrians ought to have some care as well, and always attempting to make eye contact with drivers at intersections is a good idea for their own safety. However, this is sometimes impossible to do. An example of this is where crossing at the intersection of Broadway and Third Street, a vehicle is trying to turn right onto Broadway while the pedestrian is crossing behind the vehicle as it maneuvers its way into position to make the turn. Vehicles traveling along Broadway meanwhile, and turning left onto Second Street often do not bother to check for pedestrians and just try to beat the oncoming traffic to make their left turn.
It’s pathetic, really.
Is More Traffic Enforcement Needed In Orangeville?
I’m not really big on the idea of increased enforcement – in many ways, we are over-policed as it is. At the same time, if there is going to be enforcement, I think more attention should be given to the safety of pedestrians on the street instead of the “easy to win” speeding tickets handed out in places that are obvious speed traps and which mostly have the purpose of increasing government revenues.
As well, some public shaming of these idiot drivers might also be a good thing. I’m not really sure what the answer is to this growing problem. Some of these stupid drivers can also be quite threatening when their ridiculous and unsafe behavior is pointed out. Recently when I simply scowled at a driver that had nearly run me over as he illegally made a turn through an intersection, the driver shouted out that he was going to break my legs. A female driver threatened to call the police after I tapped her car after she had nearly hit me. Of course, that threat was not one I feared and in fact offered to stick around to wait for the police if she did in fact call them. Of course, she did not call them.
The sad thing is that these drivers seem to have no idea of what the consequences could be if they did strike a pedestrian and injured… or worse… killed them. To save a few seconds of time, they would likely lose their license and probably have to endure years worth of civil and potentially criminal trials with prison time being possible.
All because they were trying to save what amounts to a few seconds of time.
This is not the consequence I’d like to see occur in order to get the message across. I hope it will not take a serious injury or death to a pedestrian for people in this town to realize how their behaviours could affect them. But we do need to find a way to let these idiot drivers know that they ought not to be on the road, or that good old fashioned courtesy is highly valued today.
And hey – if you’re one of those drivers that doesn’t give a whit about anything except saving a few seconds worth of time, don’t be surprised when pedestrians get upset with you – for those of us that walk around town frequently, it’s becoming a very frustrating and maddening thing to experience these situations on a regular basis.
It would be great if we could return to the times of when Orangeville really was a small friendly town made up of mostly courteous folk. But I don’t think that is going to happen. But in the meantime, don’t hurt anyone out there while you’re driving.
What do you think? Do you walk a lot through town and have experienced this increased behaviour of drivers? What’s your thoughts on solutions? Tell us in the comments below.