No More Speed Traps

Radar TrapDepending on which side of the fence you are on, this pronouncement from Inspector Norm Gaumont who is the head of Traffic Services for the RCMP in British Columbia has certainly caused comment. Of all the sections in the Motor Vehicle Act, those that set the speed limit are certainly held in the most contempt by the drivers I see during my patrols. The majority of drivers regularly travel in excess of the speed limit and see nothing at all wrong with doing so. Should the police concern themselves with speed enforcement?

As with every behaviour that we develop, if you do it again and again with no negative consequences it becomes safe in your mind and an acceptable thing to do. We are very adept at rationalizing our decisions and speeding becomes just another part of driving. On the other hand, I see the negative consequences of speeding regularly. My outlook on the practice is different because I know what happens when you make a mistake, and speeding makes that mistake worse. Often the speed itself is the root cause of the collision.

Aggressive driving is socially unacceptable at the moment. Following too closely, zooming from lane to lane slaloming around the slower vehicles, running stop signs and traffic signals, even physical road rage incidents are regular happenings on our highways today. Wait a minute! Isn't speed a component in all of these incidents? Certainly it is. A small one perhaps, in addition to both drivers either deliberately or unknowingly failing to follow other rules about granting right of way, but still a part of the problem.

Before we relax our attitudes toward speed even more, we need drivers with a social conscience and drivers with a more thorough knowledge of proper driving practices. We also need drivers who will do what is right, not what is expedient once they have developed these talents.

For the record, what Inspector Gaumont said is that the RCMP Traffic Services will not conduct focused anti-speed operations in places where it is not justified. If there is a speed related collision problem, the "speed traps" will still be there. Speed related targets of opportunity can also expect attention as police travel to and from the high collision areas. Speed enforcement is not dead, it is just being redirected to the areas on our highways where it will do the most good.

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