Saturday, July 28, 2007

Highway Chewbacca

I've just about had it with Toronto cops. This evening, on the DVP exit ramp to Bayview, we heard cop sirens. Immediately we proceeded pulled over, since the cop was on our tail. The cop, however, took a different course of action and passed us on the left, and cut off a motorcycle to enter the ramp to the Bayview south-bound lane. It's bad enough that the cop nearly caused an accident right there, but it had gone down the ramp and that was that.

To complicate matters further, we had just started going down the off-ramp, when suddenly, we hear ambulance sirens. An ambulance was rapidly approaching us. Unfortunately, it being an off-ramp with a crazy curve to it, there was no safe place to pull over. There wasn't exactly a shoulder, so we opted to keep going down the ramp until we hit Bayview, so that we could pull over on that shoulder. When we're almost at the end of the ramp, we see that the motorcycle is pulled over, noting that it's pretty easy for him to pull that off, not being that wide a vehicle to begin with.

When we reach Bayview, we promptly pull over and let the ambulance pass us. End of story, right? Wrong. We're not even a few meters from where we pulled off when a cop starts flashing their lights on us. Dazed and confused, we pull over and wait to see what's going on.

We are greeted by a female officer who starts yelling at us from the moment that she steps up to our car, telling us that we should've pulled over on the off-ramp and that by not doing so, we were endangering the life of a baby on its way to Sick-Kids. I'm not at all down-playing the urgency of getting someone in need of immediate medical care to a hospital, but explain to me just how we were supposed to safely pull over on that off-ramp when there was NOWHERE to safely pull over. We explained just that to her, and then she went on to tell us about how the motorcycle pulled over with no issues. I guess she doesn't realize that it's probably a lot easier for a skinny little motorcycle to pull over on such an off-ramp, compared to say, a car. On top of it, she starts claiming that we should've seen the ambulance coming well before we got onto the on-ramp, citing that these things light up the night sky like Christmas lights. I guess she doesn't realize how many freaking lights there are in that area.

Not surprisingly, she gives us a ticket, which we will fight in court.

It seems to me life is very black-and-white for cops cars and other emergency vehicles. If those sirens are on, you'd better get out of the way, mofo, cuz they're comin' right for you. There's no leeway. To them, there's no excuse. I've been on the road so many times where I've seen ambulances nearly cause serious accidents while trying to rush someone to hospital. Is endangering the life of others on the road the price one must pay for trying to save another person's life? I swear to you that my heart goes out to that little baby whose life they were trying to save on that ambulance, but these guys need to realize that we were just trying to pull over in a SAFE spot to avoid another accident.

Besides, if you're going to go with semantics, check out what the Ontario Driver's Handbook states here. Nowhere in that section does it address one-way-single-lane roads. In fact, the manual only addresses one-way two-lane roads, and two-way roads.

I'd also like to point out the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, section 159, which states pulling over as near as practicable to the edge of the roadway when an emergency vehicle approaches. So by that definition, our pulling over once we left the off-ramp was the nearest practicable location to pull over.

The officer argued that no matter what, when you see an emergency vehicle with its lights flashing, you pull over, and they take it from there. The idea being that by laying down a common rule-set for folks like you and me, there's always a common course of action and they in theory eliminate additional variables which would add complexity to an emergency situation. Unfortunately, the world isn't black-and-white, and we can't always follow the book to the letter. I'm not saying break the law. I'm just saying that you have to adapt to certain situations.

To take a simple traffic example, the posted highway speed limit is 100km/h; however, most people don't drive at 100km/h. They drive usually at between 110km/h and 120km/h (I'm being genrous here). At any rate, even though 100km/h is the posted highway speed, the unspoken rule is to go with the flow. If you're the only one going at 100km/h and everyone else is going much faster than you, you're messing with the flow of traffic. Is that black-and-white? Looks like shades of gray to me...

See you in court, Officer!

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