Do As I Say, Not As I Do

SoapboxI have to admit that I made a conscious decision to disobey a couple of traffic laws the other day. I disregarded the speed limit and failed to keep to the right lane. I didn't think that the failing to keep right would be an issue because I was pacing a marked police vehicle that I knew was not responding to an emergency.

As with many readers, it has always been a sore point with me when I know that the people who are charged with enforcing the laws were not prepared to follow those laws themselves. While I do make mistakes, I did my best to follow the rules because I felt that I could not write violation tickets if I was not prepared to be an example.

This marked police vehicle was not being a good example as the driver was consistently 15 to 20 km/h over the speed limit if there was no overtaken traffic to slow down for. The vehicle also never vacated the left hand lane at any time during the 5 kilometers or so that I followed along behind. Do as I say, not as I do.

What does one do? Grumble like I did and carry on? Complain to the head of the detachment and hope that something is done? Perhaps you can write about it like this and hope that the officer will see themselves in the narrative and decide to do as I say and as I do.

As an instructor this has been a constant sore spot with me for years. While I know that police are trained in vehicle handling, they seem to have the worst driving habits when it actually comes to following the rules of the road that they are supposed to enforce. Speeding, failure to signal, failure to stop at stop signs seems commonplace, and not just in unmarked cars. They share these same bad habits that the majority of road users have.

Notwithstanding the fact that police are hired and trained to follow orders and not interpret them, if the law is an ass, it's difficult to expect anybody to obey it. In the case of highway driving, as you know, the safest form of driving is generally to stay with the flow in order to minimize speed variance. Therefore if most of the other cars were doing 15 or 20 over, the police cruiser should have also. Most drivers on many BC highways, are travelling safely albeit illegally over posted speed limits which are generally too low (100 on HWY1 east of Vancouver, 110 on the Coquihalla, 80 on the S2S etc.). Mass civil disobedience from the driving public and those who enforce the laws is the logical outcome. Left lane hogs; you and I agree.....Keep Right Except to Pass. Regardless whether this police vehicle was doing the speed limit (or any other speed), and although it's not currently illegal to occupy the left lane unless passing (if I get my way, that'll change), I agree ... your visible example to the rest of the driving public was a bad one. He (or she) was a bad example and should have been in the right lane.

Hear ! Hear !

I saw a cute move one morning where Departure Bay Rd hits the (old) Highway. The light turned red just as a cruiser was approaching, intending to turn south (left). He / she quickly moved to the right turn lane, entered the hwy, and after about 50 yds, hit the lights and did a u-turn across the hwy.

As soon as he was heading south, off went the lights and he proceeded along with the rest of the traffic. Obviously, no emergency. Too "important" to wait out the light I guess.

I wonder if they realize how much respect they and the whole service loses when the public sees this kind of stunt.

That was pretty gutsy of you as technically by writing this article you are incriminating yourself in terms of this is a written record of you speeding.

I’m in agreement with what you are saying / writing that police should set a good example.

One can only hope that our enforcement officers will rise to your challenge for good driving examples and not look for ways to respond negatively to your critique.

Since I’ve followed your column my driving abilities and habits have vastly improved. I always drive in the right hand lane except to pass and only do 2 or 3 k over the speed limit. I’ve had people give me the finger a few times along the highway in front of Qualicum Beach for adhering to the speed limit. Nice!

Just read the comment about police vehicle going over the speed limit and in general not setting a good driving example.

I too have seen this time and again, police vehicles switching lanes without using a turn signal, driving over the limit and the other day as I was already one foot into a pedestrian crosswalk when a police SUV style car just drove right in front of me, after having made a rolling stop. I don't even think he saw me. He had no emergency lights on and seemed to otherwise be going slowly.