VIEWPOINT - Targetting Little Old Ladies Going to Church

SoapboxAfter just coming back from a trip I thought I would see what you have to say about an issue that has been bugging me for some time. One can not drive very far without encountering one of what I call the crazies. The driver who drives like a fool, way too fast for either weather or road conditions, passing when its not safe, Etc. Etc.,and generally putting everyone in his or her path at risk. These are the people who scare me a lot more than someone who inadvertently goes over the speed limit but is driving carefully and skilfully.

The Highways would be a lot safer if the RCMP would spend their time at apprehending these people and doing what they can to keep them off the road. If the RCMP would target this group instead of spending an inordinate amount of time in setting up elaborate schemes to catch some poor old lady who is late for church going 10 K over the limit. (I’m not kidding this happened to my neighbour last week) we would all be better off and the highways would be much safer.


"Crazies" are everywhere!

It's not improbable, but I would be quite surprised to learn that your little old lady neighbour was issued a speeding ticket for doing 60 in a 50 zone on her way to church. A warning for speeding, absolutely. A ticket in a playground zone for 40 in a 30, maybe. I've often heard that 10 over turn into 10 over the 10 over that people think police allow, meaning 20 over in total. However, without direct knowledge of the circumstances, I am only guessing.

At least, I'm sure you will agree with me that the "crazies" as you describe them can be found everywhere. They don't limit their bad behaviours to just the major highways but drive in the same unsafe manners wherever they happen to be. So, if the police in their targeted enforcement, or any other enforcement for that matter, encounter a "non-crazy" that is not following the rules, what should they do? In my view, they should take that behaviour into account and deal with it in a manner appropriate to the circumstances.

Don't ticket a little old lady on the way to church? If the driving merits the ticket and the police don't, how is the Superintendent going to know that this driver may be in need of intervention? The violation may be due to factors other than inadvertence. This little old lady could be the next driver to mistake the accelerator for the brake and plow through the people in the parking lot at the grocery store. The Superintendent doesn't hear about written warnings issued to a driver like this.

Yes, the "crazies" deserve what they get and I know that the police watch for them. If the "crazies" are not around and another violator is present during a patrol, should the police ignore them so that they are not busy with a "non-crazy" if a "crazy" should happen by? No, they should not.

Traffic enforcement in my view should be firm but fair, target the behaviours that cause collisions in the areas where they happen the most, and if something is encountered outside of those parameters it should be dealt with on it's merits.


Just Making My Point

I just told you about the little old lady getting a ticket on her way to church just to make my point about the RCMP and their inordinate concentration about catching the average driver in one of their speed traps. I had to smile at how the lady recounted her story to the neighbourhood, I will simply say the Officer who gave her a ticket will not be on her Christmas list.

If you wonder why I’m a bit cynical about the RCMP and Govts. about speeding I will share this with you. A few years ago I had the opportunity to attend a lecture by a prof at UBC who’s topic was how company’s and Govts. manipulate statistics to either sell or promote whatever their promoting at the time. He stated a few stats on Co.s etc, and then got to Govts. The Govt. of the day and the RCMP were trying to sell the concept of photo radar at that time to the public and were pulling out all kinds of statistics of how speeding had gotten way out of control and they had to do something to stop it and photo radar was the answer.(Sound Familiar) anyway this prof took exception to their statistics and decided to prove them wrong.

He  had the stats on how many accidents were caused by speeding and then showed how they were arrived at. Their Nos. Were directly correlated to the weather. This is how he explained it. We all know that when there is a dump of snow overnight in the lower mainland there is a lot of accidents the next day. Any way when the police record the accident they state the driver was going too fast for road conditions. Even if your sliding down a hill with no chance of stopping your still going too fast for road conditions.

Now enter the spin doctors, ah going too fast “Ipso Factor” speeding. So they enter the cause of the accident as speeding. This prof had charts going back 10 years on the weather and also the stats on speeding causing accidents and there was a direct correlation between the years we had bad weather and the increase in speeding causing accidents. He pointed out that the year before there had been a lot of morning commutes made after a snowfall and the speeding stats causing accidents were way up for that year as well.

These were the stats the police and Govt were using in their spiel to convince us that photo radar was necessary to quell this epidemic. Of course they knew differently. The spin doctors won, we got photo radar, and other than enriching the Govt. coffers nothing changed. The people detested photo radar so much (It was obviously just a cash grab) that the next govt used getting rid of it as an election ploy. They won and photo radar was gone.

Any way, there’s an old saying “Liars figure and figure’s lie” so I’m not convinced that the Officer who caught that old lady speeding in his quite conniving speed trap shouldn’t have been spending his time more productively in getting the people who really are a hazard to the rest of us off the highway.

Get Rid of Speed Traps

I read your response to my comment on crazies and I feel compelled to reply to your comments in your last paragraph where you say that police enforcement when it comes to speeding should be fair and impartial and target high accident areas. Any of us that have moved or travelled around B.C. have soon discovered that the RCMP operate in the same fashion in every town when it comes to setting up and operating their speed traps.

They are set up where there’s going to be the most productive area in producing tickets. (The analogy is the same as Willy Sutter, the famous bank robber used, when he was asked why he robbed banks. And he answered “because that’s where the money is”

They are set up where the highway configuration and location are conducive to an individual inadvertently not realizing there exceeding the posted speed limit till it’s too late and they're caught. Generally speaking they're located at the entrance to town (so a driver is somewhat complacent after having been driving at normal highway speed for some time) at the bottom of a hill (the steeper the better so it’s harder to slow down) where there is a change downward in the posted speed limit, and where there is adequate concealment for the police and their car.

In our area the approach into West Kelowna off the “COKE”, down the steep hill past the sawmill, a change of speed limit at the bottom of the hill, and a police officer concealed in the tall grass on his knees or sitting on his butt with his radar gun just passed the speed change sign is a good example as it has all these conditions in spades and from the stories that people have told me and from my own observations this is a very lucrative and productive area for producing speeding tickets.

The police will never admit it but they operate on the same principle that sales people do,(I will generalize here) when a sales person knows from experience that if they make 50 cold calls they will get 5 appointments and 1 sale. The police know that if they target a certain stretch of highway if 1000 cars go by in an hour 5 will be exceeding the speed limit enough to ticket. One day they may get 0 but the next day they get 10, if it’s averaged out over 100 set ups provided the traffic pattern stays approximately the same and there operating at the same time of day they will average 5 speeding tickets per hour, just as in sales it’s simply a numbers game.

You never see a speed trap set up where the highway conditions are not conducive to drivers exceeding the posted limit. Why would they? It would be a waste of their time. They also know that if they move their trap to an area of highway where the highway configuration is such that it is produces 10 speeding tickets per hour they can be more productive in a shorter time span. Yes from time to time they will target specific areas usually at the request of people living alongside a piece of highway who complain about speeders but soon revert back to their familiar and more lucrative haunts.

Speed traps are not generally set up in high accident areas as these areas are not conducive to speeding due to the highway being configured in a manner that actually makes people slow down, twists and turns and blind corners, crossroads, etc. So what is the end result of the RCMP and their speed traps? They don’t deter anyone from inadvertently going over the posted limit which is the excuse the RCMP use for setting them up. The vast majority of drivers getting speeding tickets are not a hazard to other drivers , they are driving quite rationally and safely and are simply victims of the clever speed traps that enterprising RCMP officers have perfected over the years.

Ask an one who has to drive for a living and they will say the more time they have to spend on the road the more tickets they will accumulate, again just a numbers game. The police know that they will give out roughly the same amount of tickets in a given spot the next day and the next so to them it’s just a job. The individual receiving the ticket is upset as they realize they will have to contribute a fair bit of money out of their next pay cheque not for being reckless or unsafe but simply a victim of happen chance. So who gains?

The police officer certainly contributes a great deal of money into Govt coffers for a very limited time spent so this certainly contributes to deferring the Govt expense for the RCMP. If you were to quantify the amount of money made for time spent a speed trap would have to be one of the most lucrative ventures in B.C. next to drug dealing.

So to my way of thinking they should disband these speed traps, buy a bunch of unmarked cars and have our police force out on the highway catching the “CRAZIES” and the drunks and anyone else the officer see’s as being stupid behind the wheel. Our highways would be a lot safer but unfortunately the Govt would be a lot poorer so this idea will never fly as you know a politician would never give up anything that pays as well as a speed trap. Just thought I would give you something to think about...

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