The Respectful Driver - Fact or Fiction?

Three MonkeysI've been reading Moving to Vision Zero: Road Safety Strategy Update and Showcase of Innovation in British Columbia and was struck by these words: "The Safe System Approach enables more ambitious progress by treating the road system as a product of numerous components. These components are: safe road users who are well - trained, knowledgeable of driving challenges and risks, and who are respectful of traffic rules; safe vehicles, which are equipped with proven and effective safety designs and technologies; safe roadways, road designs, and land - use planning that reduce the risk of crashes as well as the risk of death and serious injury when crashes do occur; and safe speeds, including setting safe speed limits, and adequately enforcing those limits."

Let's take a look at the first topic mentioned, that of the well trained driver. My mother tells me that when she was old enough to obtain a driver's licence she went in, paid two dollars and was told to go learn to drive. I had to take a 20 question multiple choice exam, practice driving a bit and then pass a 15 to 20 minute road test. My children took a 50 question exam, passed through two levels of graduated licencing which included one hour exams and took formal driver training because we could afford it and I thought it was an important life skill.

That's quite a change over three generations! However, to put it all in perspective, a driving examiner confided in me that even after passing through the Graduated Licencing Program, drivers still only possessed the basic skills necessary to drive well and that further training would be needed to become a really accomplished safe driver.

Pop quiz. Hands up all of you who have taken formal in vehicle driver training after getting your basic licence. Yes, some of you, and I'm guessing that the majority of those did so because their work required it rather than because you wanted to for personal reasons.

Great! We've got the technical part of driving covered, improvements have been made. Let's move on to the second half of it, being respectful of traffic rules. I will also dare to expand that to being respectful of other road users because the traffic rules are only part of that equation. Sometimes we need to be nice to others even when the rules tell us that legally there is no requirement to. The Golden Rule is not found in the Motor Vehicle Act but does need to be part of every driver's learning.

Sadly, and perhaps because my career was in traffic law enforcement, I see drivers today as being less respectful of the traffic rules and each other when I drive. What stands out for me is women and young drivers. When I began policing I rarely wrote a traffic ticket to women in comparison to men. By the time I retired I no longer noticed a difference between genders. Young drivers are now tagged with New Driver signs (if they respect the traffic rules) and are easier to spot so this may not be a fair comparison to what I knew from the past.

Aside from enforcement action, Moving to Vision Zero establishes the following priorities: the development of a sector - wide provincial road safety calendar of education and awareness initiatives; the development of a best practices toolkit for education and awareness events; the creation of a provincial road safety logo; and the building of a network for distributing education and awareness campaigns. Hmm, advertising and tickets, no mention of testing, training or incentive to improve skills. I'll have to re-read the document, maybe I missed it...

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Comments

Submitted by E-Mail

Like you, I’m getting a bit  older and appreciate each day. I like driving, but it sees to be getting worse on the roads. Likely because there are more drivers now and although the percentage of bad drivers may not have changed much-there are  a lot more of them and they are more visible.

I do believe that consequences change behaviors . Most are good drivers who don’t get penalties or ICBC surcharges for accidents, so good drivers are rewarded, some what- All ICBC premium are going up . It does not seem though, that the penalty system works very well for “bad” drivers, those who put themselves and others at risks.  There are too many high risk drivers for police intervention .One recent example is highway 19 , Cook Creek,where the RCMP set up radar occasionally. This family day they nabbed 22 cars for excessive speed. They could likely do that every day,so the deterrent doesn’t seem to be working-likely because enforcement is pretty low frequency. Some People don’t seem to care if their vehicle is towed.

The basic cause though , is that people have a need for speed. Although we see impaired driving counter attack adds on TV at Christmas and some texting adds, there is no advertising on speed which is likely the number one cause of serious and fatal injuries. We need ongoing public communication on the causes of serious and fatal car crashes.

I suggest that all drivers who have shown to be high risk with excessive speed or impaired, should go back through the graduated licensing program with a mandatory defensive driving courses and have an N of their cars.

Those who have been convicted of Impaired driving should have mandatory alcohol or drug counseling and have an ND on their cars. Those with excessive speed would have an NS on their cars. A little public shaming may just save some lives. It would also help the public identify high risk drivers

The present approach is simply not working.

Human nature is key.

Of course better training to increase skills would be a huge asset to start with, formal driver training to increase knowledge of the laws and handling skills. Although I think off road training with high speed & skid control, distracted driving and much more would also aid in the necessary skills to make the roads safer.

But even after all that, a driver can spend weeks taking further training to obtain a professional license, which of course increases skills and knowledge, but believe it or not that driver is actually still a "Green" driver, in other words a rookie just starting a new faze of learning. Yes after years of driving smaller vehicles, then training and obtaining a class 1 license your still learning, many class 1 drivers just assume that once they past the road exam and now hold a professional license, that makes them a professional. All to very soon find out how wrong that belief was and how little they actually do know about driving. Sure they may be very "proficient" in operating motor vehicles by now and their knowledge of the laws has increased but now they also have to learn and apply the " golden rule" in smaller more forgiving vehicles it's easier to forget the laws and the all important "sharing of the road" with all drivers, of all levels of skills & non skills, after all many drivers consider themselves good drivers after a short period of time and their confidence has increased,,,,, "Human Nature"

What most never learn is how to turn off your emotions while operating a motor vehicle, never getting mad at other drivers actions no matter how insane they are at times and simply accept them and share the road with them, adjust your own driving to allow for their poor skills & knowledge. A long term class 1 professional driver can instantly turn into a bad driver as soon as they let emotion take over and effect them negatively, all their knowledge & training combined with extra skills are almost totally useless with "negative emotion"

Something even once learned must always be the top priority on every drive, and one thing never taught or learned by the vast majority, most survive by simple "self preservation" which saves them many times from crashes, but gives them a false sense of being a good driver, rather than mostly luck.

Submitted by E-Mail

I hope that our elected representatives and and those who advise them , read your articles. We have a good friend who spent a lot of his career on high way patrol and his comment was”Glad I did not pull over a Hell’s Angel or some other person with a gun”. So it is easy to give advice, but it is the front line policing people who have to deal with  those who break the laws, and put the public at risk-and themselves.

I think a lot of traffic enforcement could be done with  speed and traffic monitoring technology, and that the BC Government is way behind the times in preventing injuries and deaths on our roads. Public advertising on the problem of speed ,impairment,road deaths and injuries is nearly zero.  ICBC could pick this up, easily and make a difference.

BC isn’t the worst,yet, but we are a long , long, way from zero injuries.

R E S P E C T as Aretha would say!

Interesting topic.

Pop quiz. Hands up all of you who have taken formal in vehicle driver training after getting your basic licence. Yes, some of you, and I'm guessing that the majority of those did so because their work required it rather than because you wanted to for personal reasons.

Yeah, that would describe me to a T.  So my first job out of High School was driving a Cement Mixer, for which I had to get a Class 3 with Air.

Didn't bother with further training when I added the Class 4 a year or so later, but once I got into the Driver Training industry some years later my attitude changed a lot.  I think there's an anology to other Professionals - think in terms of Accountants, Lawyers, Teachers - for these people it's intrinsic to constantly be learning, to be upgrading skills.

So taking courses in advanced driving skills - Smith System, Vehicle Control, etc were a natural development.

However, to put it all in perspective, a driving examiner confided in me that even after passing through the Graduated Licencing Program, drivers still only possessed the basic skills necessary to drive well and that further training would be needed to become a really accomplished safe driver.

That's how it is.  All that a D.E. can ever do is check out basic vehicle control skills and regulation knowledge.  A person can get through a fundamental Road Test without ever using their mirrors, for instance; and it's altogether too risky for them to be required to use a Freeway on a Class 7 test.

Driving is like anything else, inasmuch as we learn - or not - through experience.  The difference, I think, is that we're no longer mentored in the same way as someone like a pilot or a surgeon; we're individually, for the most part, 'on our own'.

 I see drivers today as being less respectful of the traffic rules and each other when I drive. What stands out for me is women and young drivers. When I began policing I rarely wrote a traffic ticket to women in comparison to men. By the time I retired I no longer noticed a difference between genders. Young drivers are now tagged with New Driver signs (if they respect the traffic rules) and are easier to spot so this may not be a fair comparison to what I knew from the past.

Indeed, women have rapidly caught up to men when it comes to rude and aggressive behaviour behind the wheel.  Brilliant, I blame Emily Pankhurst.  My wife does not read this forum.

I think it should be kept in mind that any inexperienced driver in BC will be issued with a Class 7 license (that means an L or N sign Requirement) regardless of age.  Jurisdictions such as Australia or the UK have had similar requirements in place for far longer (Graduated Licensing in BC was launched on August 3rd, 1998 - ICBC kept offices open for extended hours including through the weekend for those who hoped to get through their Class 5 Knowledge Test, or pass their Class 5 Road Test, before the deadline).

So let's think about whether the 'Fact or Fiction' of the Respectful Driver comes into play, and that includes this:

Let's move on to the second half of it, being respectful of traffic rules. I will also dare to expand that to being respectful of other road users because the traffic rules are only part of that equation. 

I think that when it comes to being respectful of traffic rules, many new drivers tend to 'interpret' their application, while maybe picking up clues from those around them, or the way their own parents drive, for instance.  Does everybody else actually stop at Stop signs?  Signal their Lane Changes?  Maintain a reasonable following distance?  Stop for an Amber Light, if it's reasonable to do so?

As for being respectful of other road users, I suspect that much of this is inherently cultural; family and social background is likely to play a big part.

Aside from enforcement action, Moving to Vision Zero establishes the following priorities: the development of a sector - wide provincial road safety calendar of education and awareness initiatives; the development of a best practices toolkit for education and awareness events; the creation of a provincial road safety logo; and the building of a network for distributing education and awareness campaigns. Hmm, advertising and tickets, no mention of testing, training or incentive to improve skills. I'll have to re-read the document, maybe I missed it...

We shall have to see what they're up to.  When they introduced GLP almost twenty years ago, ICBC had some of their best people working on it for at least a year in advance, full time.  Educated people, many with years in the field from a practical standpoint.  They didn't get it all right at first, they tweaked it for many months, and even years, afterwards.  But their statisticians would be able to prove, these days, that the injury and death rate amongst new-ish drivers has been demonstrably reduced - it takes time to get there.

What we have to hope for - or demand, if you like - is that our provincial government members are kept in the loop, and involved, invested in the process.  It's just not good enough when ignorant people such as Gordon Campbell are heard to ask in the House what those 'L' signs mean; why didn't they ensure in advance that every driver in the province would know in advance?  And it's just not good enough when arrogant twits like Christy Clark actually think it's OK to proceed through a red light (with her kid in the back seat, en route to his school) and a reporter watching.

Respect.  For everyone.  It should come from the top.

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