Complaints Anonymous - A Traffic Violator Database Proposal

GrumpyI never know what I will find when I check the DriveSmartBC e-mail in-box. Today’s gem came from someone who identifies themself as Grumpy and suggested that they were thinking that maybe I could use the web site to contain a database such that when a bad driver is witnessed, the public could enter the details of the driving offence. No personal information need be provided.

The writer went on to say that the main benefit of the database is that we could keep a count of the number of offences for a particular driver. If say, a license plate gets reported 3 or more times then the police could/should automatically investigate this person.

In a perfect world, the only entries in this database would be honest ones. No one would ever think of causing problems for another by flooding it with malicious information, misinterpretation of an event or insufficient detail.

A vehicle’s licence plate only serves to identify who owns the vehicle, not who was driving at a specific time. Yes, the owner must take reasonable steps to identify the driver when police notify them that the vehicle has been involved in a contravention but would you be able to report who was driving your vehicle at a particular time 6 months ago?

It’s the “no personal information need be provided” part that causes me the most concern. That says to me “I’m not willing to be accountable for the information that I am providing.” I think that with a little more thought, Grumpy would also not be willing to accept being the focus of an investigation under this system.

There is a database almost like this implemented in British Columbia right now. It’s called PRIME, the Police Records Information Management Environment. I’m guessing that Grumpy’s difficulty is that every time you try and add a record, you are asked for your name, address, birth date and telephone number by the complaint taker. Many people truly are reluctant to provide this information. At this point, I got the impression that many of them just wanted the police to wave their magic baton and have the problem go away.

It doesn’t work that way. If you want to solve the problem, you have to be a part of that solution.

Unfortunately, even when you are ready, willing and able to participate, the outcome could be less than what you are hoping for. Sometimes it can be much less. Perhaps this is why Grumpy is proposing an alternative system.

Having said that, I always found that the driving complaints that I chose to prosecute in traffic court resulted in a conviction. It had little to do with my skill as a prosecutor and everything to do with the citizen who reported the incident and was willing to see it through to a conclusion. That will was reinforced by what was usually significantly bad driving behaviour on the part of the accused.

Some drivers deserve to be held accountable for what they do when traffic law enforcement personnel are not around to discover and deal with them. If you are involved and feel strongly that action needs to be taken, make the report and follow up. If you don’t try, you won’t be successful.

Comments

Submitted by E-Mail

During the 80's I lived in Vernon and commuted to Kelowna to work. One time, on the way home, in a 70km/h zone, I was on a sweeping, but blind left hand curve, and was passed on the inside by a fellow in a large car doing well over the limit. I was angry that he took such a chance, endangering my life as well as his own. He sped off, but was slowed by other traffic and I eventually caught up to him at a traffic light and got a good look at the driver. I wasn't about to say or do anything because I didn't want to start something. I did, however get his plate number, and called in a complaint to the Kelowna RCMP. This action was followed up and the driver was ticketed. This would not have been successful had I not been able to identify/describe him.

This was a long time ago, and based on other articles herein, doubt if there would be a successful outcome, given the same conditions. The best part was a callback from the police advising me that the driver had experienced consequences of his driving. Made my day!

Submitted by E-Mail

What really bothers me are the drivers who refuse to travel the speed limit – they crawl along, hog the middle line, and I’m sure don’t check their rear-view mirrors. 

We on Salt Spring Island have more than a few of these drivers.  Our roads are all 2 lane – even our highway, which I have asked for pull outs more than once but to no avail.  I have more than once called the police about these drivers – one was a truck towing a horse trailer (understandably so).  However, the driver absolutely refused to move over and although we have no pull outs on our 2 lane highway, there are wide turn areas and drive ways.  I took her licence and reported her and the person that answered the phone defended her to the hilt.  I actually wondered if she knew the person driving the truck. 

Prior to this, I had spoken to a constable who told me that if I reported a slow driver, the driver would be checked to see if they physically able to drive – in other words, if the police suspected the driver should have their licence pulled, they would mandate a driver test or at the very least, talk to them about impeding traffic. However, if the person who is answering the phone at the police station is refusing to take the information and pass it on to a constable, then what do we do?

I speed occasionally, there’s no doubt – however, people who impede traffic to me are more of a hazard.  What they are doing leads to road rage.  So how to fix it?

winding roads and slow traffic

We have the same issue  here on some narrow, winding, rural roads, but most often it is cyclists who travel well below the speed limit .Quite often they take up much of the lane,and ride side by side.Sometimes they travel in large groups,making it a challenge to pass safely.

It can be a bit irritating if you have an appointment somewhere, or are trying to catch a Ferry.

Budgetting extra time , knowing this issiue is common may be a practical solution.Also would it be appropriate or legal to lay on the horn?

Submitted by E-Mail

Yes I called in to 911 to report a possible intoxicated motor vehicle operator. I waited until VPD arrived & began to interview the man before I drove away. I was pleased with the quick police response.

Response From Grumpy

Thank you for replying to my email by writing that lengthy ho hum article. Perfect for putting me to sleep.

OK, let’s all get out of our cars and put our brains in gear for a change.

In today’s world, traffic patterns on our roads have changed ‘enormously’.

For example:

-There is an ‘enormous’ amount of traffic

-There is an ‘enormous’ amount of new drivers.

-There is an ‘enormous’ amount of traffic accidents

And most importantly,

-There is an ‘enormous’ increase in the number of bad driving incidences.

Although the general public would like to report most of these bad driving incidences, in reality that simply isn’t going to happen.

No right minded individual is going to waste their precious time and energy just to bring some idiot to justice over the fact the THEY were driving badly!!

Furthermore, logistically, the police would simply not be unable to cope with the ever increasing number of daily diving offensives even if they wanted to.

So what the heck are we going to do about this dilemma?

1) WHAT WE DEFINITELY DO NOT WANT IS:

A system that requires members of the public to personally instigate and pursue public prosecution of individual drivers

Why should a member of the public waste there valuable time and energy simply to bring some other moron to justice!

And to be honest, what normal and sensitive human being really wants to find themselves standing face to face with a complete stranger simply for the purpose of finding them guilty of a simple driving offence. It simply isn’t in the human psyche.

Placing charges and proving guilt should fundamentally and more practically be the job of the police department.

2) WHAT WE DEFINITELY DO WANT IS:

A quick and easy way to find out who are the most serious and offending culprits and bring them to justice in a quick and simple manner.

If a member of the public could report a driving offence in say,

1)  a minute or two, and

2) NOT commit themselves to wasting any more of their valuable time then most likely they would do just that.  Hooray!!

So let’s all put our heads together and try to figure out a new and innovative way of dealing with this new and serious situation on our roads.

What we as humanity definitely do not want...

...is a simple and quick way to make false accusations with impunity.

Some of the oldest laws known to humans concern the false accusations and the punishment for such. One thing, that for certain is in human psyche, is competition, and for thousands of years people have been finding ways to gain advantage over each other in unfair and unethical ways. So about 3800 years ago King Hammurabi codified in stone the following:

"3. If any one bring an accusation of any crime before the elders, and does not prove what he has charged, he shall, if it be a capital offense charged, be put to death."

There is no need to invent a new system: the legal system in the western world is the latest-greatest state of the art collection of civilized principles that was carefully weighted, redrawn, reviewed, updated and improved. One simply needs to understand the rule of law and the most basic principles of consent to be governed.

If you do not understand it - it doesn’t mean it’s broken. If you think it doesn’t work - it does.

The type of sentiment you propose, unfortunately, is the erosion of the legal system’s most basic principles, and a waste of time that was already discussed several million times by humans for over the last 4 THOUSAND!!! years.

new ideas

Nice that somone wants to reduce vehicle accidents and injuries and looking for a new approach.

Reporting suspected impaired drivers, noting their drivers licence plate number, description of vehicle and location, and direction of travel, is someting that concerned citizens could do to get some impaired drivers off the road.

The other idea to reduce accidents and injuries is not new but old, Speed cameras to slow those who drive at excesive speed-more than 40 kph over, No additional police resources required .

However rather than invent new approachs, which could be  a good thing, why not have ICBC check into accident prevention  activities underway in PEI and Ontario which have about half the fatality rate as BC.?

Citation needed

"PEI and Ontario which have about half the fatality rate as BC."

Please provide citation to source, as according to the 2013 TC report PEI had almost double the fatality and injury rate than that of BC.

Ontario fatality rates were close to what you say, however injury rates were almost identical to BC, making me think that the general number of collisions was comparable, but due to "luck" factors - like vehicle make and model - and remember the sample size is under 2,000 -richer/newer/safer vehicles may have contributed to the difference in fatalities between ON and BC:

(Link removed as the document is no longer available.)

Fatality rates

Visit the Canada Ministry of Transport site.You will see that PEI has the lowest fatal rates on all stats comparisons, updated in 2014. All Provinces and Territories are required to update their statistics with in 8 months of year end. I'm wondering if ICBC is being pressured not to update stats because the BC fatal rate is higher than the Canadian average in 2014 .Many questioned the wisdom of increasing speed limits and targetting drivers who drive the limit -slow drivers. Older Drivers?

Raising the speed limits is not the main issue-it is follow up on high risk drivers who continue to cause serious and fatal injuries. Excessive speed, impaired, distracted are the cause of 81% of deaths on BC roads..

Grumpy makes good points Few of us will go to court or confront bad drivers.There is technolgy to adress the excessive speeding driver and a phone call with details, will adress suspected impaired drivers. Polce have the tools to get impaired drivers and their cars off the roads with out going to court.Speed cameras do not require witnesses to testify in Court.

Do you see any concerted effort by BC Government to reduce fatal and serious  vehicle accidents? Above average road deaths seems OK in BC , if you can get there faster. Keeping the economy moving is more important, it seems ,than a few more innocent victims who will die on BC Roads.

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