DriveSmartBC: We Are Not Serious About Road Safety
I learned this week that Canadians are considered to rank 42nd out of 50 countries based on how good they are to drive in. This disappointed me until I sat back and thought about it a bit. Based on a bit of self examination and what I see happen around me when I drive I think that I have to say that we are not serious about road safety. Financial loss, injury and death are part of the cost of allowing everyone to move when and where they wish to.
We follow the rules when it suits us to and we can easily justify in our own minds doing what we want to when it does not. A survey conducted by Insights West for ICBC shows that we are aware of the importance of safe driving and give ourselves high marks for safety (82%), attentiveness (79%), knowledge (78%) and courteousness (76%).
Nearly nine-in-ten drivers report having had a near miss, but are more likely to say another driver was responsible.
Driving on our highways requires co-operation, not competition.
When we first obtain our class 5 driver’s licences we possess the minimum skills necessary to drive safely. Few people choose to undergo further training to raise their skill level voluntarily. Our government does nothing to encourage or require it, even when we show that our skills may be lacking due to a collision or accumulation of traffic ticket convictions.
Intersection safety cameras don’t carry the level of political danger that photo radar did, so we have them at intersections with high crash rates. I hate the term “cash grab” but I’ll allow that this scheme approaches it. Run a red light at high speed as many times as you wish to. As long as you pay the fine, you’re good to go. There are no penalty points, no entry on a driving record and no way to designate the culprit if it was not you, the vehicle owner.
If you are a new driver, beware! The second traffic ticket in a year will likely mean that you will prohibited from driving for a short period to teach you to follow the rules. If you are an experienced driver, relax, it will probably take 4 convictions in a year to trigger a sanction for you.
Occasionally after a conviction in a case behind decided in traffic court where the driving involved was out of the ordinary, the officer prosecuting would ask the justice for a period of prohibition as the penalty. I never saw this imposed in the 20 years I spent watching trials. Instead, I heard something along the lines of “I’ll let the Superintendent decide on whether the accused should be prohibited or not.”
Crashes were costing ICBC too much money so our government took decisive steps to solve that problem, reduce the amount of money that it cost to cover claims. This has not worked out well for some who have suffered losses as they are no longer able to sue for damages.
There was no mention of doing something more to reduce the collision rate and the need for claims to be made.