VIEWPOINT - Politics and Road Safety

SoapboxIt’s very interesting that some new drivers to BC can easily obtain a driver license with no written test on BC traffic laws and no road test to demonstrate competency .

Road safety should not be based on political agreements.

While many of the 12 Countries that are exempt from testing, have lower vehicle Fatality rates, Some countries have triple the Canadian average fatality rates.

I’m beginning to understand the lower mainland situation.

Every driver on BC roads should be tested and be able to understand traffic signs.



Reciprocity? Or more Regulation? What's Reasonable?

Driver License Reciprocity is, necessarily, a political issue. After all, it's governments that issue Driver Licenses. And Driver Licensing is primarily in place -anywhere - for reasons of safety.

In my opinion, Canadian Driver Licensing should be just that: a Federal system, issuing a Canadian Driver License.

Why on earth each and every Province or Territory finds it necessary to issue Driver Licenses is a mystery; it's not like there's any money in it! Having held valid licenses in BC, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario I'm completely convinced that a Canadian Driver License is feasible and logical.

Meanwhile, being as we're stuck with this Provincial system of regulation, there's no reason why reciprocity isn't reasonable; so long as the folks from PEI can figure out that in BC a flashing green light is pedestrian controlled, folks from Alberta can understand vertical traffic lights, and folks from Ontario realize that blue flashing lights indicate a cop in a hurry, rather than a snowplough, I think we're all safe swapping licenses without the hassle and expense of having to go through another road test, equivalent to the one previously passed in the home province; heck, even those folks from Quebec know what a red octagon with white lettering that says 'STOP' means. Eh?

So, what about our southern neighbours? Just last month, I was driving in Washington and Oregon, and it didn't seem to be a challenge, quite frankly. I've previously driven in a number of other US states, with equal success; didn't even read the local manual, to be honest. Not all that impressed by some of the driving I saw, but you can say that about anywhere. The general thing is, Americans drive pretty much like we do, on roads built and signposted and regulated in pretty much the same way except they don't speak metric. So for passenger vehicles, at least, I have no issue with reciprocal licensing agreements within Canada and the US; further testing is redundant. Now what about other jurisdictions?

Take a look at the list, and perhaps the first thing you should realize is that many of the reciprocal jurisdictions have much higher licensing standards than we do!  Driver Training courses in Germany are extensive, expensive, and mandatory - just one example.  And most jurisdictions focus on road safety from a much earlier age; teaching all children in schools how to be safe pedestrians, how to ride their bicycles safely, and so on. Responsible behaviour and awareness is ingrained long before they're of an age to obtain a Driver License!

Countries using the 'British' system (think Australia, Channel Islands, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom) all have thorough and high standards for training and testing, in many cases better than ours. The same is almost certainly true of all the other european countries on the list. So what's the problem with reciprocity?

Now let's deal with a couple of the comments in this Thread, objectively.

Every driver on BC roads should be tested and be able to understand traffic signs.

But every driver on BC roads has been tested! We don't have reciprocity with any jurisdictions that don't have a testing system in place, and it's foolish to suggest otherwise.

As for traffic signs, where is the difficulty? I mean, if you were driving through Queensland, and saw one of these, would you be able to figure out the hazard? And please don't show off your ignorance by suggesting that English language skills are necessary to drive in BC; traffic engineers have been eliminating words and replacing them with symbols for decades now. (That's why it doesn't have to say 'Yield' on a Yield sign - get it?)

Frankly, anyone who hasn't figured the language issue out is either cognitively or visually impaired, and should be immediately required to take a Re-Examination in order to continue to hold a Driver License.

Swap your licence with no proof of knowledge is just insane in my mind, and from contries that drive on the left to top it off, some of these drivers have never driven on the right side of the road before and they can just change their licence and start driving right away.

Proof of knowledge has already been covered; there is no reciprocity with countries that don't require this.

Now what's with the 'right side of the road' issue? Consider this:

  • Every day, tourists and business people arrive here and elsewhere, rent cars, and drive on what is - to them - the 'other' side of the road.  Head-on crashes involving tourists and business people are not a 'thing'. Doesn't matter if they're Hong Kong Chinese driving in Beijing for the first time, British holiday-makers visiting France, or South Africans visiting Vancouver for the first time. Reciprocity? Irrelevant, in every case.
  •  "Högertrafikomläggningen".  Look it up. When Sweden switched from left to right back in 1967, chaos was predicted. Didn't happen.
  • Here in BC, the same switch took place back in 1922. Mayhem! Horror!! Etc. Nah, didn't happen. So what the hell is this issue with driving on the other side of the road, for pity's sake?

There may be a good argument against reciprocity; but I certainly haven't seen any evidence of it here.


Interesting as allways. A simple way to confirm the facts would be an analysis of penalty points and accident rates for these offshore agreements vs licensing in multiple languages vs  others in BC.. Likely, ICBC allready knows these statistics . Likely the lady with the 14 distracted tickets knew the rules, possibly after the 10th ticket.She could care less about BC laws and she is not alone.Thank fully Lower Mainland Police are on the ball.

Licencing does not seem to be the only issue-many drivers with "N" -newly minted drivers who know the rules and passed all the Knowledge/Roads tests are often the cars going too fast. How to try to adress this- education through enforcement -bring back photo radar. Our police are too busy to babysit bad drivers-offshore or home grown. Educate them before they kill. 


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