I currently had a few days off and decided to head back to the other side of the province; this meant a drive of just over four hours.
I always notice the different licence plates I pass or the ones that are on the vehicles which pass me. This is probably because of that licence plate game many play when young.
As I watched these vehicles I couldn’t help, but notice innate differences between drivers. The differences came mainly between drivers from Saskatchewan and everyone else. The Trans-Canada highway is always quite busy. People are always coming and going in a hurry. There are cyclists that usually travel along the side of the road as well.
So, my impression of drivers from this short trip came to be as follows. People from Saskatchewan who travel on the highway seem to be more polite as a generalization. As I drove there were cyclists travelling on the shoulder of the road. I watched as countless people passed in the lane right next to them without slowing down. There was no one travelling in the left lane passing these vehicles, but they did not move over.
Those with Saskatchewan plates, however, would either slow down if no one was behind them and they were being passed as they drove by the cyclists or if not being passed they would move over to the left lane thereby giving the cyclist a bit of extra room.
This same thing was done by vehicles, which had pulled over to the side of the road to stretch their legs or walk their dogs. Time and again I watched as vehicles from Saskatchewan would either slow down or move into the left lane giving the vehicle stopped on the shoulder a cushion between the fast moving traffic and the stopped vehicle.
While driving on the single lane highways between Carlyle and Regina I found that the same courteous act was done. If there was no oncoming traffic the Saskatchewan drivers would either move completely into the left lane or at least half way over, while if there was an oncoming vehicle they would at least slow down. I then watched as vehicles with other licence plates would not move over or slow down for those on the shoulder.
Another thing I noticed about drivers was that the majority of those with Saskatchewan licence plates would tap on their brakes warning those behind them that they were about to slow down. This usually happened when someone in front was turning or if someone noticed an animal at the side of the road preparing to dart across the highway. Each time a warning was given about something to do with the road ahead it was a Saskatchewan licence plate that did it.
While driving I never saw a non-Saskatchewan plated vehicle tap their brakes to warn of an impending danger ahead. The tap is done to catch the driver’s attention behind you, as sometimes drivers do not pay close enough attention or if the vehicle following the first is unable to see the hazard the first car can.
According to a few people I know that are not from Saskatchewan these practices are very kind and considerate towards other drivers and probably developed because of our country-esque ways. It is because we would have to slow down when the road was blocked by cows as people move their cattle from one pasture to another. There is the need to move as far over as possible when a tractor is coming down the road in order to let them by.
The other thing drivers in Saskatchewan do is move over slightly on a single lane highway if the person behind them intends to pass. It lets them see ahead more easily without pulling into oncoming traffic, but can also be a way to let the person travelling behind know that there is no oncoming traffic.
A few people then decided to tell me that this was because we’ve all driven tractors in Saskatchewan and in letting people pass us while driving tractors we have to move over to let them pass.
I accept that they were teasing me. Most people I know who are not from Saskatchewan like to bug me about being a “stubble jumper,” but it’s all in good fun. They in fact think they’re quite funny, which usually they are but sometimes you’ve just heard too many of them. Yet when they make fun of our little prairie province they usually put a compliment in it, so it’s not bothersome. In fact everyone who commented on this topic over the years all admit that Saskatchewan drivers are much more aware and considerate when it comes down to it.