OPINION - Raising the Level of Consequences

Paul Hergott Law logoTaking away someone's privilege to drive is viewed as a drastic step in correcting driving behaviour. Currently, a fully licensed driver has to accumulate a significant number of points in a year before the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles takes steps to apply this penalty. In my experience, the traffic courts are also reluctant to take this step, saying "I'll leave that up to the Superintendent." when the officer prosecuting requests a prohibition as part of the penalty.

Paul Hergott is a traffic safety advocate that regularly writes about traffic safety. He's observed that the IRP has made significant reduction in incidents of impaired driving death and injury. In his article Raising the Level of Consequences for Bad Driving Choices he suggests that the IRP should also be applied to drivers who cause a crash, regardless of the level of severity. Getting that licence back would require taking driver training.

Perhaps this would be an incentive to drive in a responsible manner.


Raising the Level of Consequences for Bad Driving Choices

While I support increased consequences for poor driving behavior(s), attempting to assign "fault" at the scene of a motor vehicle accident would be almost impossible to implement, in my opinion.  There is huge potential for undeserved and unfair hardship to a driver who has just been involved in a motor vehicle accident (and already shaken by the event).

Rather than attempt to impose immediate consequences in such uncertain circumstances, a similar penalty might be considered to be imposed later.

In my experience even the ICBC makes errors in assigning fault for motor vehicle accidents, after having the benefit of interviewing witnesses, reviewing the physical evidence related to the crash and having input from their own legal department.

I haven't had the benefit of reading Paul's article.  I know that sometimes he writes to invite (notice that I didn't say "incite") discussion and thought.  If he was advocating for accident-scene DL consequences to drivers (beyond those presently contained in the Criminal Code or Motor Vehicle Act), then I suggest that he was doing so to prompt discourse and reflection on how we ought to go about reducing poor driving behavior.

There are already financial consequences for poor driving behavior that causes a motor vehicle accident - even without criminal or quasi-criminal prosecution:  at-fault collision surcharges, possible increased insurance premiums (depending upon one's claims-rated scale with ICBC), payment of deductibles, DL suspensions, and the like.  If the present financial consequences are not significant enough to prompt change in behavior, then some combination of impact on license privileges, financial burden and mandatory driver training would certainly be worth considering...but these penalties ought to be imposed fairly and deservedly.   I'm all for increasing the consequences until the behavior changes - but sometimes accidents are just that.  We can't expect that drivers will meet a standard of perfection - though from my observations of driving in BC, we can't afford not to attempt to shift driver behavior closer to that standard.