Driving instructor Lisa Bennett was just talking about the importance of watching for hazards when she and her student drove up alongside a man on rollerblades.
Bennett, owner and operator of Salmon Arm’s Direct Drive Driver Training, said it was around 4:30 p.m. on April 1. She and her student had just passed Shuswap Street while travelling east on Highway 1. They were in the right-hand lane, intending to turn onto Okanagan Avenue. Before the turn, they encountered the man on rollerblades, travelling on the adjacent sidewalk.
“He was just sort of doing loops around and circles… almost like he was figure skating on the sidewalk,” said Bennett.
After her vehicle passed the rollerblader, Bennett, in the passenger seat, checked her mirror and saw the man had fallen from the sidewalk onto the highway, and into the path of an oncoming vehicle.
Bennett captured the scene on her vehicle’s rear dash cam and shared a still from the footage with the Observer. She said the still looks very dramatic, but the oncoming vehicle was moving slowly and the driver was able to stop in time.
“I think the thing that saved this guy was just the fact that my student and I had slowed down because of this fellow – it was concerning to us what he was doing, and then it slowed the car down behind us. And then of course we’re turning so we’re going reasonably slow into the turn,” said Bennett, recognizing the outcome could have been significantly worse.
“Imagine that this was a semi coming through, going the speeds that semis often go, even if the semi was just going 50 km/h, it would not have been able to stop in time,” said Bennett. “So it really drove the point home that we always try to let our students know, you just have to pay attention, you just never know what’s going to happen on the roads.”
Bennett stressed this is even more important now there are more bikes, scooters and other means of transportation in use.
“You know how we’re all scared of winter driving… I find summer driving way riskier in Salmon Arm because there are more vehicles, more impatient drivers that are in summer mode and they don’t care,” said Bennett who, in her job, frequently witnesses all kinds of bad driving, from people running stop signs (“I’ve seen every stop sign run in town”), to drivers focused on their cell phones or improperly navigating four-way stops.
“I don’t take anything for granted,” said Bennett. “Even at a four-way stop, we’ll be in the middle of a turn and some guy will come right into the side of our vehicle, he’s looking left and right and we’re right in front of him turning. And I’ve had it happen twice where somebody almost drove right into my student as we’re turning left in front of them and they’re on our left. We were right here, we’re in a bright red car, you can’t miss us.”
Bennett has been a driving instructor for 10 years in Salmon Arm, and also sits on the city’s Traffic Safety Committee.
Though her dash cams have captured a variety of examples of bad driving, Bennett wanted to share the April 1 incident with the public to stress the message she shared with her student.
“This is more than just bad drivers, this is a random hazard and I’d never seen anything like it before. But it happens,” said Bennett.
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