Out of Touch or Vote For Me?

BC FlagI spent most of my policing career as a traffic cop. Yes, I have an outlook that many in the public don't share, but they haven't spent 25 years investigating collisions and seeing the aftermath either. Thank goodness for that, but maybe our politicians need a bit of experience similar to my own to temper their viewpoints.

A news item in the Tyee today has me shaking my head. Mike Morris is a Liberal candidate for Prince George - MacKenzie and an ex-RCMP officer. He says that photo radar was an effective tool and that we should use technology where appropriate to free up police resources for jobs that technology cannot do today. As you might expect, I agree with him completely.

Not so our four party leaders. Two immediately responded about it being a cash grab, one suggested using a greater police presence and the last used the opportunity to point the finger at one of the others. My first thought is that they are out of touch and on reconsideration I expect that they are not going to dose us with the medicine that we do need at a time where they are looking to the public for employment.

Agree with me or not, speed is a major component in many motor vehicle collisions. The consequences of collisions are severe and affect us all in many ways that we don't stop to consider. Our politicians must stop to consider and should not be making ill considered remarks like those reported in the story.

Reference Link:

It always amused me the last time photo radar was in how people reacted vehemently to its use. It's quite simple really, stay at or below the speed limit and you are fine.

The issue is most people consistently drive at 10km/h or more above the posted limit and will aggressively weave, swerve, tailgate, road rage at those who stick to the limit and then when they do have to slow down to the limit, they creep back to what they are used to.

Observe traffic when there is a Police car travelling in the same direction as you. Some drivers barely manage to stay behind the car and the moment the Police car turns off, it's back to normal.

Driving requires concentration and people forget this. They have been driving for years and think they have nothing new to learn, haven't updated their skills since taking their test, haven't had an accident and we all think we are better than average drivers or at least average!

I agree with the "where appropriate" remark; there are some situations where I would question the intent of its use.

These comments on photo radar, and those of Mike MORRIS, are indeed true. Photo radar was a wonderful tool as a speed deterrent. In my area, speed is a factor in over 40% of our collisions. Any deterrent to speed has a profound effect on reducing collisions. When police are visible speeds are down. Photo radar would have a significant impact on reducing speeds since the majority of vehicles in the area are company owned, and as such, most companies have  consequences for employees who are driving contrary to regulation.

You will recall getting rid of photo radar was a "Vote For Me" election promise by a certain premier candidate years ago. It worked. Unfortunately for Mike, there is no room  in politics for ethics.

I agree Photo Radar should be a part of policing and I for one do not see it as a cash grab, its policing and ticketing speeders. In pretty well all situatons speeding does not gain you the time that you expect, but that does not register with those drivers.  Another area I would like to see more of is roadside checks.  

Photo radar was a cash grab, pure and simple. Speed must be excessive or combined with inexperience and /or inattention.

Speed limits are ridiculously low in relation to modern cars. Speed should be keeping up with the speed of traffic.

Oh and if you want to drive the speed limit please stay out of the fast lane !!

That is all.

If you can't identify a parked Safari van on the shoulder of the road and slow down before it takes your picture, does that qualify as inattention? ;-)

Anyone who calls any ticketing a cash grab has a very low IQ. What is a jail sentence for murder, a time grab? Fines are a deterrent for behaviour deemed unacceptable and the most effective way to adjust said behaviour is by adversely affecting ones pocketbook. Many European countries base fines on income, ergo the more you make, the more you have to lose, keeping the affect consistent across wage bands. I spent a lot of years in Alberta, with photo radar, and saw both my own behaviours and a lot of other people's adapted as the costs rose. Apparantly here the police were not as creative in it's use, as in Alberta, but, that too can be remedied. Police in Edmonton, in the early90's said that a multinova camera could pay for itself in three days. The more the merrier.

That comment tells me you have a heavy foot as with my years of driving I have never found speed was an advantage to make up time, although many will argue that point but baring someone hitting me I will arrive at my destination in one piece and thats good for me and my family....

I had already made my views known to the moderator of this forum.  Some of us are capable of speeding while still driving intelligently. I believe - perhaps I delude myself  - I am one.  I have over a million miles of driving experience and I maintain my automobile in very good and safe condition.  Although, if there were more speed/radar traps, I would likely be one of the ones caught.  But in the end, many serious accidents would be avoided and I would gladly accept the risk of being penalized if it would lessen the number of fatalities and other serious injuries.  I would not consider any action to penalize all speeders as any "cash grab".  That, to me, would be the argument of many drivers that risk getting caught and fined.  And, I would add, they are likely the irresponsible drivers who cause these accidents because of this lack of police presence, their careless driving and/or their raging hormones!  The bottom line:  I, for one, would support anything that would increase the policing of drivers and I would accept - no doubt begrudingly - my share of speeding tickets if it meant reducing the number of senseless traffic accidents.

According to the BC Government's own review of Malahat safety, 89% of collisions were caused by something other than speed.  Why photo radar keeps coming up I don't know.

For me, I'm more likely to pay attention to my speed where the limit is posted at 30 or 40kph.  At 50 and above, I generally "go with the flow" being sure to leave plenty of space in front of, to the side and behind my vehicle. 

This space management is much more easily accomplished when you can go with the flow of traffic.  It's easier to keep pace with a gap in traffic, enabling you to create a pocket of safety around your vehicle. 

Lately I've been doing an experiment and trying to keep to the posted speed limit.  My increased fixation on absolute travel speed seems to be distracting me from the traffic around me.  Despite "speeding", I'm generally a calm, focussed driver, alert to what's going on around me.  Fixating on absolute speed increases tension and anxiety and I notice that I am more prone to error. 

Even with photo radar, thousands upon thousands of drivers continue to speed.  It's no the magic bullet that slows every one down to nary a tick over the posted limit.  The speed differential is still a factor, and I'd rather not be sharing the road with drivers who are constantly fixated on their speedometer worrying about the next ticket in the mail.

I read the article by the retired RCMP officer who had spent most of his career in traffic mentioning the merits of photo radar and decrying the politicians who are against it.

It was a major issue in a recent election and that's why it was discontinued as should the red light cameras.

I was an Vancouver Police officer and spend a large part of my career in traffic enforcement and firmly believe that the "hands on" approach is much more effective.  It provides an immediate response the the infraction and and opportunity to suggest to the offender  a change in his habits rather than a citation in the mail a couple of weeks later that only serves to irritate the offender and degrade law enforcement.

Once again, I agree that 'there is no time like the present' in dealing with inappropriate behaviour (Psychology 101)  Any reward or punishment - read "ticket" - serves its purpose best when immediately given.  That's unarguably the best way to associate poor driving habits with penalties.  But, save us all, please, from the pontificating police officer who takes it upon himself to impress upon us the dangers of speeding!  Because, the danger is not found in the speeding itself, but in other intrinsic factors such as: driving experience, driving defensively (being circumspect for factors such as weather conditions, approaching/oncoming traffic, lighting etc. etc.).  For example, just this Sunday morning I learned on the news that some motorcyclist hit a left-turning vehicle an accident resulting in the death of the cyclist and car driver.  Obviously, speed was a major factor in the cause of the deaths of both drivers.  What remains to be seen is whether the motorcyclist was driving at a literally suicidal rate of speed or was he on drugs.  The left turning vehicle it surely could be successfully argued, should have seen the oncoming motorcyclist approaching at an unusually fast speed, but only if the former was driving with extraordinary care and attention.  Sorry, but my point is that there is speeding and there is mindless, wanton and reckless speeding without any care for the safety of anyone else. Common sense should always prevail.  At least in a world where mob lynching is still not legal.

Yes the cars of today will go faster, and perhaps the stop better, when properly maintained, but, for BC drivers, bald tires and poorly maintained vehicles are a way of life. BC roadways are for the mostpart unchanged in decades, largely undivided, with poor shoulders, old pavement, and plenty of transient road and weather conditions. Speed limits are set for the majority, not the odd Sebastian Vettel amongst us. I am amazed how many of us feel the law is for others, not them! Yet we still see ridiculous carnage on our highways. The faster you go the less time you have to react and the more damage potential you can create. Our highways are busier than ever, more dangerous than ever, and the speed limit is there to protect all. Speed kills! Thou shall not kill, ergo, thou shall not speed!

There is no subsitute for the effectiveness of a traffic enforcement stop performed by a constable doing their duty. A well trained, experienced police officer brings far more to the side of the road than mere comparison of a posted speed limit with a measurement of speed by a machine. Almost every week one reads of the admirable results of police traffic services activity & the involvement in the arrest of an alleged criminal by an alert constable. In my opinion, no amount of photo radar vans parked on the road side can replace this kind of law enforcement.

Tax dollars are scarce. This election is about that fact. For my money I would far sooner see any extra policing technology dollars put towards the continued upgrade of communications systems. It would mean that no matter where enforcement activity takes place an officer is never without the ability to instantly access all necessary information & call for assistance if needed. Today's technology could give that support to those standing on the thin blue line protecting the rest of us. No doubt there are many other examples of where current techhnology could be employed. Let's not squander our limited resources on photo radar - a failed 20th century approach to road safety.

I totally agree with mylittledaddy's comments.  Electronic monitoring of speed, traffic signal violations et al. will never replace policing with real police officers.  The mere presence of police on the roads would curb much more than keeping traffic violations down.  There seems to be a dearth of police cars on B.C. roads, especially in the bigger cities compared with other cities such as Toronto.  Further, and I believe more importantly, I strongly disagree with the legal precept that has crept into B.C. over the years:  the presumption at law that the owner of an offending vehicle is also the driver (I speak of traffic cameras and photo radar).  This is a typical example of expedience trumping the law.  That may be ok in Napoleonic countries such as France where we are guilty until proven innocent.  That is, it should not be up to the registered owner to prove he/she was not driving.  It should be up to the Crown to prove that the owner is the driver.  Another reason for policing with real police officers when the offenders can be identified immediately, in person and when that person was "found committing" the offense.

I would be interested to hear the moderator's comments on the point of presumption that the owner of an offending vehicle is also the driver - I hadn't considered this point and if I had to prove i wasn't the driver to avoid the penalty/points I would be unimpressed. That's partly a pride thing I guess, as I have an unblemished 35 year driving record and I intend to keep it that way! :)

Not having seen a picture, would it show the driver? If taken from the front, it might or could depending on lighting I guess, from the back not. I assume date and time stamps are mandatory. I would be interested to know more.

I don't believe photo radar tickets assign points to the registered owner, it's just a fine. 

Begs the question - if that's an effective method of enforcement, why do traffic stops where a ticket is issued to the driver come with penalty points and potentially penalty point premiums?  Perhaps it's the government's way of saying "we're not sure if it's actually you or not, so we're just looking for a cash settlement instead"

I've talked about the duty of the registered owner, regardless of whether they are driving or not, in an article on identifying the driver when someone makes a driving complaint. There are links to the applicable Motor Vehicle Act sections at the end of that article.

Photo radar and red light cameras don't go that far and leave it up to the owner to decide if it is necessary to identify the driver or not. If the owner does so, the driver gets both the fine and the points for the violation. If they don't, the owner is only responsible for the fine, there are no points for the owner's conviction.

This is most interesting news to me.  Almost suggests that there is some allowance for the fact that the owner is not the driver.  If the offense warrants a fine and demerit points, then why not nail the owner with demerit points also? Somewhere therein lies one significant credibility gap! It is tends to give credence that perhaps electronic monitoring is, in fact, a cash grab!  Something that, heretofore, I had not considered possible.  So much for that argument!

Years ago, in Alberta, where there are no front plates, I had a fleet of company vehicles. It was firly easy from the rear view photos to determine who was driving, but as the registered owner it was also my responsibility to know who I loaned or assigned these vehicles to. I kept records. It is really not an issue, especially with front plates.

Thanks for the information and link, good to know.

It is interesting to see how many opinions and different approaches there are to what one might think is a simple yes or no question.

Here's a link to a chart showing stopping speeds on a well maintained dry road with a vehicle with good tyres, properly inflated and all that other good stuff. See how double the speed is not simply double the stopping distance.

Stopping distances are just one of many aspects of defensive driving and collision avoidance.

Is there a date on that chart?  A simple Honda Civic will take 130 feet to stop from 60MPH, not 180 as shown on that chart.  A three-quarter ton, loaded pickup truck will do it in 150. 

I think most charts are from older data and today's well maintained cars can stop in a shorter distance. I'm sure there are large differences between cars as well, disc brakes all round versus disc at front only, type of tyres used, how worn they are, etc., etc.

I find it more interesting that the faster you travel, the distance to stop does not increase at the same rate; by that I mean if you double your speed your stopping distance (based on this data) is triple the distance, not double. That's a lot more room needed to react safely should you have to.

Damn right they do! As mentioned earlier, in Alberta in the 90s I had a fleet of vehicles and techs driving them. Mail in Alberta was never as quick as BC and in one day, I got several speeding tickets, three for one tech alone. John tried to convince me that these were in the companies interest, as he was responding faster, and that I should pay the tickets for him. I in fact did (I wanted nothing outstanding), but over a half dozen payroll deductions he felt the brunt of his actions. John never again had a photo radar ticket in one of my vehicles! People's behaviours can be positively modified when their pocketbooks are negatively affected!

As there are no points associated with photo radar tickets, does the accumulation of multiple tickets on one car affect licencing, insurance, etc...?

There are points for the driver if the driver is identified.

Multiple tickets to the registered owner will only cause problems if they are left unpaid. ICBC can refuse services until payment is made.

So unless the driver comes forward and claims responsibility, ICBC and the government are only collecting cash settlements from the vehicle owner? 

Best to just ignore the fact there are cameras, drive in a safe manner for the current traffic and road conditions and pay the tickets.  A few hundred in traffic fines (with no points, no premium hikes, no impoundment risk) sounds much better than an increased crash risk.


Photo radar, as used in the UK where it is fixed in place and advertised 100 metres before, is a very effective tool in controlling speeds in dangerous areas. We should look at this as a tool we can use to reduce road accidents.

Speed cameras are riddled with accuracy and reliability problems, the companies operating them are known for making backroom deals with politicians and in many cases crash and injury rates don't improve.  Thousands of safe drivers receive speed camera tickets every year, the vast majority of whom will not be involved in a serious collision over their lifetime. 

Bring back speed cameras here and I promise you I will drive at 10Kph under the limit.  I don't trust the cameras and I sure as heck don't trust the cash-strapped governments and private corporations running them. 

If you are able to back up your assertions made in the first paragraph with links, it would be good of you to post them here.

As for the second paragraph, you realize that the traffic ticket money collected by the provincial government is handed back to local government to fund community safety projects, right? The camera makers have a stake in selling them, but I think that government is more about using them as a safety tool and less as a $ generator than a lot of people seem to believe.