Why Don't I See Traffic Police at Work?

Ticket WriterYou might be surprised to learn that this was a topic of conversation among my colleagues when we sat down for a coffee break during a shift. Most often one of us would have been travelling during their vacation and the remark would be something along the lines of “I drove all the way to X and back and didn’t see anyone stopping violators!” Maybe there is something to the remark “Where’s a cop when you need one?”

In rural British Columbia, the traffic enforcement units that I served on are required to cover long stretches of highway. Fort St. John was responsible for the Alaska Highway (97) from mile 33 to mile 147, Highway 29 from Highway 97 to Hudson’s Hope and all of the rural roads to the Alberta border. South Okanagan policed Highway 97 from the US border to Peachland, Highway 3 from the west end of Manning Park to Rock Creek, Highway 5A from Princeton to the Okanagan Connector and Highway 3A from Keremeos to Kaleden. Central Vancouver Island managed Highway 19 from Nanaimo to north of Bowser, Highway 19A from Parksville to Fanny Bay, all of Highway 4A and Highway 4 from the east to the west coast.

In all cases, it was difficult, if not unworkable to patrol from one boundary of the district to the other in a single shift.

The manpower complement in Fort St. John was a corporal and 5 constables. South Okanagan was staffed with a sergeant, a corporal and 10 constables. Central Vancouver Island manpower included a sergeant, two corporals and 9 constables. The majority of the on road work was done by the constables and administration by the sergeants and corporals.

That seems like a lot of resources until you consider that there were other demands for time that could include collision investigation, court, training courses, impaired driving investigations (before the IRP program this could easily consume half a shift) and the dread of us all: paperwork. Days off, annual vacation, sick leave and the need to cover both day and afternoon shifts spread us more thinly than we would have liked.

I can’t say that we were hidden from the casual glance of the travelling public either. Unmarked cars were rare in the fleet. They were almost always plain full sized sedans with black steel wheels and antennae sticking out of the roof. If you couldn’t spot one, it’s likely because you weren’t paying too much attention.

Information from the province regarding traffic policing resources and goals can be difficult to find. The BC Policing and Community Safety Plan devotes a few words to traffic and road safety while the report on Police Resources in British Columbia, does not indicate how police manpower is dedicated beyond how many officers are authorized for each location.

It’s not surprising that you don’t see flashing lights that identify traffic law enforcement in progress when you travel on BC’s highways. The task is a huge one and the number of police officers dedicated specifically to the job results in many kilometres of highway to patrol for each one. Focused enforcement targeting high collision locations and behaviours is necessary for efficiency and limits random patrols.

It seems to be taboo to the present Government, but they are missing an opportunity to help police our many miles of roads.Yes it is electronic monitoring of speed- speed cameras. Well advertised ,portable and moved to the many crash sites in the Province to educate high speed drivers -too many who also drive distracted and impaired.

ICBC rates are going up due to the increased number of injuries and severity of injuries. As a customer I want them to start to work  smarter on preventing accidents.The technolgy is available, while police are overloaded with many other issues

Phil, you're a fairly new poster here, you share some interesting views with "Class 1 Driver". And while Class 1 guy is pretty infamous for posting their musings on-line under the name of Larry Ash, I tend to believe Larry's/Class 1's posts to be genuine to what they really mean, but what is your angle?

Everything you posted so far is the Speed Kills talking points that are several years out of date. Namely the over-top / head-in-the-sand / black-is-white kind of public propaganda generalizations that address none of the actual dynamic issues that may appear from time to time on our roads and is generally viewed as a thing of the past. I'm pretty sure the "Speed Kills your pocket" video took care of highlighting most of the dissonances that this chapter of propaganda entails, see it on YouTube.

In your today's post I've read "crash sites" as "cash sites" first - which is more appropriate anyways...

You do realize that EDUCATION does not equal PUNISHMENT.

And that electronic means of ticketing do a disservice to all road users - because in no way do they actually educate drivers. Getting a ticket two weeks or more after the offense in the mail for a section of road that you can barely even recall anymore is nothing but a cash grab and a nuisance.

Electronic means do not even address the point of driver's identity and therefore all offenses are issued against the vehicle owner and bear no demerit points. Having those installed actually takes Police presence away and virtually legitimizes speeding as an additional tax; since those who can afford it suffer 0 additional consequences.

Real Police pull-overs are an immediate punishment - drivers get stopped in their tracks right after the offense and face an uncomfortable situation of explaining to another human being the reasons behind their unsafe / unlawful action. They also may get a ticket, which is for their exact persona - as identified by the Police officer - and if the offense carries demerit points - those are assigned to the right person.

Hopefully the cop also explains to the driver why what they did was ill-advised.

That's education.

Tell me, when was the last time a speed camera had a reckless driver stopped and towed? With hundreds of Lambos, Ferraris and Maseratis zooming around lower mainland with the green N signs on their backs - do you think that they will slow down because of it or will they welcome the ticket with no demerits and no-tow next time they are going 200km/h on the highway? I don't think money is an issue for them - the only thing that will stop those people from eventually taking someone's life is taking their sweet ride away, at least temporarily.

Most everything you've posted here so far in-general, especially the "angry cries" of "when will the gov do something" or "gov has no interest in saving lives" makes me feel extra paranoid that you're here undercover on behalf of the Injustice Minister and Primonster Crusty to promote the next stage of the road tax traditionally sold as "safety", cause "BC residents" have been "asking for it".

If you aren't - that's fine - lots of people wish for things that they don't fully fathom - hence the old adage - "Be careful of what you wish for".

However, it should be considered a supplement to police action rather than a replacement for it.

The fact that the current regime does not always assign penalty points can easily be changed. In fact, with the current ability of the registered owner (RO) to nominate the driver, it is really almost there. What may need to be tweaked is that if the RO doesn't ID the driver, they get the points. It will be some incentive to consider who uses their vehicle and will insure that penalty points are assigned.

Nominate or accuse? I think that in this circumstance it is the same thing and should provide the same rights on the "nominated" party: namely the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty; or suffer being struck down as unconstitutional. Wouldn't you agree that the nominee has the defense of "it wasn't me" available to them and at that point the registered owner has to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt the identity of the driver who was cited at the time?

Furthermore, why would any registered owner spend the extra effort to nominate a driver for points, where the alternative would be to pay the ticket as the owner - suffer no consequences and get the ticketed amount from the driver in-private?

In-fact, if electronic enforcement was here, it would make more sense to drive each other's vehicles regularly.

That way both parties win by walking away with their driving records intact. The real losers are the public that are being told that roads are "safe", where in reality patrols will be cut down even further.

I can agree that complementing traffic enforcement with technology is a good move. But I find it highly unlikely that it will be an addition not a replacement.

My beliefs are based on reading about ATS and the mess with red-light cameras in the various small towns in the USA, where all sorts of shenanigans on the municipal and corporate levels led to situations that are the exact opposite of the intended result - instead of less accidents there are now more accidents - especially where the yellow time at a red-light-camera intersections has been cut to as little as 1 second (from standard 3-4 sec) resulting in increased rear-endings.

I've never heard of a municipality actually cutting down on the tickets it issues once any sort of electronic ticketing was installed. In-fact all such municipalities have had annual tickets increase by quite a bit (if not double) year-after-year.

If tickets are the punishment in the name of safety, wouldn't the regularly increasing amount of tickets indicate the decreasing amount of safety? The resolution of the above conflict is simple - money.

Create more rules and methods to enforce them on a pretense of safety - with the real object being a habitual budgetary supplement - loosely accounted and highly opaque.

This is the race to the bottom, just the same as automated telephone menus, ATMs, self-checkouts and  automated fast food ordering. No McDonalds or movie theater have hired-on more staff as a result of automation of its primary tasks - its quite the opposite - business needs dictate that if you are not needed, you do not get paid. As a result service/courtesy has been phased out, and for the same money - you can now talk to the machine.

I'm afraid that with the situation on the roads being fairly safe and with the trend of deaths still in-decline, human traffic enforcement is no longer necessary. I even doubt that accidents will increase dramatically if traffic enforcement were to simply vanish for an entire year - I bet most road users won't even notice.

My personal observation over the last decade driving - there were a heck of a lot more marked traffic cops on the roads 10 years ago. Noways - every 4 of 5 pull overs that I see (rarely) are all undercover "obtuse" vehicles that no-one thinks has a cop in it.

Belive it or not, I clearly remember most of my Police<->Driver interactions, and I hold them out to be quite the notable experiences in my life - from most of which I've picked up good knowledge and sound advice.

Tell me what can a speed camera teach me? An averaging camera can at-most teach me to pull over for 5 minutes before I reach the exit check-point if I think I've completed the section a little too fast for its liking :P

In reply to by Outrageous

Bringing in the newer technology of speed distance cameras and assigning points to the RO instead of just a fine, then there is much more at stake than money to the rich. And driving someone else's vehicle all the time? What good would that do again? Before long a driver will lose their license. Would you risk your license to let a friend speed?

Me personally would make someone sign my vehicles own log book that shows the date & time they were using my vehicle, no sign no drive, very simple solution.

Then this comment of yours copied & pasted,,,,,,,,,, "Tell me what can a speed camera teach me? An averaging camera can at-most teach me to pull over for 5 minutes before I reach the exit check-point if I think I've completed the section a little too fast for its liking :P",,,,,,,,,,,,, What can that teach you you ask, well let me ask you then, what would be the point of speeding in the first place if you keep having to pull off the road any ways and keep track of your time every time you drive, rather than just driving the posted speed. It will take you the same amount of TIME any ways,,, correct? Wouldn't that teach you to follow the limit seeing as you can't pass the camera before a certain time is up, or are you going to figure out all the distances between cameras, then figure out how long it takes at the speed limit between cameras, just so you can speed and then PARK & WAIT any ways?

Then the big bonus if done correctly, ALL speeders will be caught, so revenue will sky rocket, this in turn can pay for more under cover police to also monitor the Hwy's and look for Speeders that still want to speed and then PARK to wait until it's time to be able to pass the next camera,,,, that's just hilarious when you think about,,, Either way your getting slowed down to where there is nothing to gain from speeding, except maybe a ticket from an under cover officer any ways.

Then the even bigger bonus, once drivers realize they either follow the speed limit or lose their license, CRASHES will lower in numbers which means less Injuries & Deaths, Insurance rates will drop, heath care costs for the province will drop, productivity will Increase because of less lost time, and the government could be BILLIONS of dollars ahead EVERY YEAR. So how could that not be anything but good?

I agree that to change behavior, consequences need to be soon and certain- Therefore any speed camera  ticket should be delived as timely as possible. Likely ICBC has access to the vehicle home adress-the ticket could arrive the same day/ next day by courier. With a drone system who knows-the ticket could be delivered much sooner, perhaps when the driver exits the vehicle.

You are correct that police officers are more effective for educating drivers-unfortunateltly , there are far too many customers , growing daily in numbers.

I would be  very impressed if the Justice Minister and Premier reacted to suggestions on Tim' fine website and actually moved forward to test the effectivess of speed camera technology and started to lead Canada on preventing accidents and injuries on BC Roads.

Phil, it's hard to actually take your writing seriously:

"I agree" - maybe its just crazy of me but I see it as a markedly positive means to present your counter-arguments.

"consequences need to be soon and certain", "should be delived as timely as possible", "Likely ICBC has access", "could arrive the same day/ next day" - are all description of untimely service when compared to simply getting pulled over.

"a drone system" - a highly overused popular topic of the time. In the context you describe it would make more sense to mount cameras on masts above intersections (as is already being done).

"there are far too many customers" - they are not customers, they are free persons conducting their lawful business rightfully using public roads as a shared conveyance for their means. Seems everyone is a customer or a consumer, are there no people anymore?

"I would be  very impressed if the Justice Minister and Premier reacted to suggestions" - yes, yes you would be, because you "asked for it".

"moved forward to test the effectivess of speed camera technology" - test as-in sample vendors or sign-on for a demo? Because there is no need for intrinsic testing - this technology has been rolled out in many municipalities - the result is already known: its less traffic cops, more tickets, higher revenues, and in some places more accidents. That's basically what ATS advertises to the municipalities (except for the accidents).

Therefore I still hold my belief that either you are one of the most indoctrinated persons inregards to road safety in BC or you are the mouth-piece of the indoctrination.

Back to the topic. Police should have all the tools possible to prevent accidents caused by excessive speed, impaired and distracted- the 3 major causes of fatalities and most injuries on BC Roads.

Injuries are increasing -change is required.

Interesting that Drones have been  approved in BC, to aid firefighers  in spotting hot spots in wild fires.They can fly at night and crews can respond next morning.

It seems that similar technolgy could be used to spot aggressive drivers,excessive speeders, potential impaired drivers- and be used in conjuction with police cruisers to get high risk drivers off BC roads.



It seems that similar technolgy could be used to spot aggressive drivers,excessive speeders, potential impaired drivers- and be used in conjuction with police cruisers to get high risk drivers off BC roads.

How does a drone 'know' how to spot an aggressive driver, never mind a potential impaired one?

I don't think they have the same heat signature as a hot spot in a wild fire ...

Good question.I expect there are number of very bright people working on this application of drone technology,as they have for fighting forest fires. In the good old days , there was sometimes and "eye in the sky" - a pilot with a stop watch who would track speeders and radio to a patrol car for intervention/education- a ticket.. It seems that it is timely to do something higher tech to reduce the number of injuries and deaths on BC Roads.

Great to see Highways Minister Todd Stone installing new cameras on roads in the Comox Valley.The article states 650 installed cameras on BC roads. It seems that the BC Government is finally helping educate drivers and.... helping police to identify aggressive,distractcd, impaired driver can't be too far down the road.