Racing, Aggressive Driving and Stunting
When I worked on the Municipal Traffic Section in Penticton about 15 years ago I watched a young man on a motorcycle ahead of me in traffic on the summertime busy main street. He was first in line at a red light and when it turned green he cranked on the throttle and roared off down the street balanced on the rear wheel with the front one about three feet off the ground.
I chased him down and ticketed him for his actions.
We were in court a few months down the road at his trial over that ticket. I gave evidence about all the circumstances and expected no difficulty with a conviction. "What's wrong with doing that" asked the presiding judge after giving his not guilty decision, "the Shriners do it all the time in parades."
A parade is far different than summer traffic conditions in a vacation city, but it was far too late to change his mind at that point.
Fast forward to last September in Ontario and the implementation of Bill 203, the Safer Roads for a Safer Ontario Act. This type of behaviour will result in a fine of between $2000 and $10,000, immediate 7 day driver's licence prohibition and 7 day vehicle impoundment. This legislation was recently cited as the major factor in a significant drop in fatal collisions on Ontario highways because of vigorous application by the police.
The new legislation deals with actions such as the one I described, racing, speed more than 50 km/h over the posted limit, doing a burnout, driving with people not properly seated in seats, very close tailgating and more. In short, driving behaviours that are not something a reasonable and prudent driver would do that put themselves and others at risk.
In contrast, the section I had used was 144(1)(a), driving without due care and attention, which is the only applicable general section of the Motor Vehicle Act aside from driving without reasonable consideration for others using the highway.
Since then, I have been cautioned by members of the judiciary that these two sections are difficult to apply to a situation such as this one. Had something similar to the Ontario legislation been available for me to use, the outcome of the trial might have been much different.
Perhaps British Columbia should consider making Ontario's legislation an amendment to our Motor Vehicle Act. The penalty is harsh if you misbehave but if it would result in a significant reduction in fatalities on our highways the pain suffered by offenders would be preferable the pain suffered by next of kin.