As a traveller for so long, I neglected to get my driver’s license till I moved to PEI. This could be a good thing or a very bad thing … so I’ll explain.
Over the last couple months, I’ve noticed that drivers in PEI aren’t terrible, bad or inconsiderate … they’re just unobservant. Very, very unobservant. Here’s a poll from PEI Talk about PEI Driving Habits showing how people rated themselves as drivers
For instance, I know that as a new driver I am more easily distracted, speed when I am by myself, roll through stop signs and red lights when turning right, take many corners too sharply and drive over the curb, never know where the front of my car ends.
It seems though that a lot of drivers on the island simply are unobservant. There is a lot of “Sunday driving” here … and when I say a lot … I mean A LOT!! There are a lot of older people on the island …
Here’s an interesting graphic that will help illuminate why there is so much “Sunday Driving” here on the island …
This is based on the census, but I’ll tell you from first hand experience … it seems like there are a lot more than 16.3%. If you go Maid Marion’s for breakfast on any weekday morning, it looks like a scene from Cocoon. (Disclaimer : Image might not accurately reflect the inside of Maid Marion’s restaurant!!)
Another observation is that because there are so many older drivers here, there are a lot of people who drive at the speed limit or just under. This could be a very good thing … except if you’re a driver who is coming from an aggressive urban driving culture like Toronto, Montreal or even Guatemala. It’s almost infuriating driving behind someone who is going just under the speed limit. This is evidenced by a line up of cars behind a “Sunday driver” on any non-Highway here on the island.
[box type=”info” align=”” class=”” width=””]Many people drive just under the displayed speed limit. [/box]
There’s also a certain attitude about drinking and driving on the island. I’ve heard that this is a Maritime thing, but I can definitely tell you that coming from Trinidad … there is a very similar attitude about drinking and driving in Trinidad. The following screenshot is about 10 years old, but I would challenge any islander to tell me that something has fundamentally changed … especially in some of the conversations that I’ve been privy to
I’m not ragging on the island here at all but merely illustrating that it might be an island thing. In Trinidad, we even have it worse, because of the number of “Roll On, Roll Off” used cars on the road along with a culture that doesn’t respect the road or alcohol … when car crash in Trinidad, especially on weekends … there’s almost always a fatality. I know that in Jamaica or the smaller Caribbean island, there is a similar attitude to drinking and driving. Here’s a post from the Trinidad Guardian that captions this point.
We have a house at West Cape, PE and I can tell you that on a weekend evening, I would be much more cautious driving on the country roads because if someone actually did a scan of drivers who had a couple drinks … I’m sure the percentage would be quite high. As a recognition of the issue of distracted driving, PEI has the toughest stance on it … with the stiffest penalties on distracted driving in Canada.
Parking is also something on the island that seems range from excellent to outright ridiculous. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve gone to park my car and realized that I couldn’t do it because the previously parked drivers were outright occupying two spaces. There was even one guy who parked his truck across three parking spaces at Home Depot because he could.
[box type=”note” align=”” class=”” width=””]There are many drivers on the island who will simply park across two parking spaces because it’s easier. Resist the urge to scratch their car.[/box]
Going back to my original point of learning to drive on the island … while this is a VERY safe place to drive, I don’t know if I’m getting the right type of driving experience to help navigate really urban roads. I’ve driven in Trinidad and I can tell you that I was absolutely terrified with what I saw … PEI driving habits are nowhere close that that driving nonsense, but the “Sunday drivers” are quite annoying.
I thought I would end with a link to an episode from “Just Passing Through” … Just like brown people learn English by watching episodes of Friends, this brown guy is learning about the island by watching this series.