Where is Our Traffic Enforcement?

Question MarkHaving spent 20 years in traffic enforcement I'm always curious if I will see any of it being done when I travel on our highways. Unfortunately I have to say that I very rarely see a police vehicle in my travels, much less one stopped at the side of the road dealing with a driver. The erratic driver I saw this morning brought the question to mind "where's a cop when you need one?"

At my last posting we typically had three  dedicated traffic enforcement personnel on shift at any one time, assuming no one was taking time off, sick or in court. We three could be anywhere on literally hundreds of kilometers of highway within our patrol district. It's not a surprise that you could drive and not meet up with one of use on any given day.

The Ministry of Justice's documents show 396 dedicated provincial traffic policing positions in 2010. What isn't shown is whether these positions are actually filled with officers who are fit for duty and on the job. If they are not full, this may explain why I'm not seeing active traffic enforcement around me when I drive.

When I consider that I am more likely to suffer financial loss, injury or death in the operation of my vehicle than I am through all other criminal causes combined my perceived lack of enforcement is distressing. Yes, I may just be in the wrong place at the wrong time to not see policing in action. Not seeing it on a continual basis cannot be a good thing.

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I've been starting to think that this is actually the major issue on the road.

Driving to and from work in Vancouver, I used to see traffic enforcement at least once a week.  Now I'm lucky to see it once a year.

And almost every day, I now see an egregious traffic violation.

When I am in other cities where enforcement is more visible, the number of offences seem much lower.

I'm inclined to agree with you on the lack of enforcement, and as per your November 21st post, Do as I say, Not as I do, when you do see a cop car on the road the driver is just as bad at following the basic rules of the road as everyone else.  The majority of problems I see on the road are either related to excessive speed or following too close.

I've been complaining about this to the police and ICBC , I've tweeted about it, I added my comments on Facebook. Any media available. Yet, I get the same candid responses: call your local police department, it's not our responsibilty, this is not an ICBC concern.

We all pay our vehicle insurance to ICBC, we pay our taxes. ICBC runs campaigns about drinking and driving, occasional 'road sense" tips, and take the credit for less accidents or issues on the road (or wherever their statisticians tend to manipulate the numbers).  

Whenever there is anything good in the news about driving or the roads, ICBC will jump right in and take the credit. When it comes to traffic enforcement, they pass the buck to the police who despite all the [known issues] they have internally and their drachonian culture, one fact remains: they do not have the resources to police the roads and traffic. I cannot accept the blame lies with the police forces in the province. I submit the blame is on ICBC.  

Many other countries, states, etc have reporting mechanisms in place where you call a toll free number to report aggressive, traffic violators, and dangerous drivers. Not only do these government agencies seriously take these complaints, they action them. Whether it be someone is driving erratically on the road, someone is tailgaiting you, or someone who is running red lights. 

In this day and age, we have smartphones with video and more and more people are driving with tiny video cameras mounted on their windshields. Any excuse to dismiss the need of pursuing these violaters or proving their 'guilt' is pointless. If anything, there is a record of the incident, unlike now when ICBC merely says call 911. Of course, calling 911 is inappropriate just because someone cut you off or can't keep their vehicle in their lane. Not to mention, this is not a serious issue like drinking and driving.

The bottom line is ICBC have the power, money and resources to make our roads safer.  If for whatever 'legal reason" they may not, change the law so they do.  However, they don't want the accountablilty. They rather blame the police that it's their problem, not theirs when in fact, it is everyone's problem.

396 positions for traffic enforcement seems kind of low for an area the size of BC, however, it seems to me that the problems have nothing to do with enforcement, but in fact have everything to do with attitude of the driving public. To me, it seems, there has been a shift in driver etiquette.

Everyone seems out for themselves and god forbid that you get in my way. I drive the speed limit most of the time and I guarantee you that in the 40 kms I commuute that there will be someone who is in a rush and will put 1 meter between their front bumper and my rear bumper regardless of how fast the speed limit. There have been instances where drivers will cross the double yellow to pass me.

I've even had 18 wheelers do this! Once I thought that I'd report the trucker to his company and got the truck number. Turns out if was some place in a remote part of the Kooteneys and it was hard to find the number.

The point is that enforcement isn't possible if a majority of citizens choose to ignore the law. The 55 MPH speed limit in the US failed because many people in the western US have to drive great distances and most drivers simply ignored it.

I agree entirely with the editorial.  The Police in our community are not out on the roads; unless they all have a Harry Potter cloak of invisibility.  Our local force claims to have 25% of its' officers dedicated to traffic duty, and yet we never see them.  They will come out for an hour or so if you put in a complaint, but they are reluctant to do so.  The last time I asked them to do that, I got a call back from the corporal in charge who told me they had given out a few tickets, but basically in his opinion, they thought they were wasting their time.

Recently, I went on the Blueline forum (a group of forums for polcemen/women) to ask their opinions on a reduced speed limit for residential areas.  There is a ton of research from all around the world to support this, btw.  Boy did I get jumped on!  One officer asked what planet I lived on.  Most were more polite, but still quite hostile.  They told me in no uncertain terms that enforcement was a waste of their time, that drivers will go at whatever speed they feel comfortable (true, but usually illegal and very dangerous to the rest of us), and that they felt they had better things to do.

Don't get me wrong.  I support our local police and I recognize they have many competing priorities.  Traffic duty is perhaps one of the more dangerous of them.  Would you want to be standing out in the poring rain with cars and trucks whizzing by you only a meter away while giving someone a ticket?  On the other hand, don't we pay our police officers a very good salary to enforce our laws, traffic laws among them?

If it is true, that the police think they have better things to do, then perhaps it is time to reintroduce photo-radar.  There is no greater deterent to speeding than knowing that it is likely you will be caught.  In Australia, they have privatized speed limit enforcement (using photo-radar) and from what I hear it is very successful at getting everyone to slow down.

Agree with the article. There is a serious lack of enforcement, especially as the speed has increased and more and more drivers push the "10 k/h over the posted speed limit is OK" up to 15 k/h is OK. It is frustrating to see the fast drivers whizzing by and they catch the green light, while by the time I get there, the light is amber/red. Oh well, at least I have never had an accident in my 38 years of driving.

There are so many infractions going on arouind me when I drive, it would be easy to fill some more coffers for the police. 


I wanted to report an older Corolla sedan with modified front headlights (illegal on two counts) and who was also speeding, zig zagging through traffic like he was Mario Andretti. 

I called the police department in the area where I saw the car. I told the operator that I wanted to report the vehicle so an officer (when time permits) could visit this person and speak to them as well as examine the vehicle. I also made it clear that I won't go to court.

Because I was not prepared to go to court, the operator candidly replied no action will be taken. Only a report will be filed.  

And that people is the situation why driving is getting out of hand these days...that plus people driving way below the speed limit. I noticed this today and the driver was oblivious to the rest of the world.

The media is of no help either in this regard. They will freely report where the radar/speed traps or road blocks are but they won't promote reporting bad or aggressive drivers to the authorities. 

Canadians, fortunately, I suppose, aren't aggressive due to our culture/ Road rage is not common place; however,  perhaps one day, we will see more incidents of reported road rage and then only then will this be taken seriously. 

And you were expecting what to happen?

Without you as a witness there is no driving evidence so there is nothing to support a charge for the poor driving you are complaining about.

What's the point of attending the residence to look at the car? It's on private property and these days that would mean a search warrant is needed unless the owner volunteered to have it examined. Without your support there are not grounds for a warrant either.

Is it any wonder that your complaint was recorded for information only?

I don't agree with your thinking. Would the police officer be charged with trespassing if he simply  walked around the front yard, assuming the vehicle was not parked indoors? I don't think so. 

In any event, maybe you don't feel commmication or education is not necessary. however, one might be surprised how a simple "talking to" from the police might do to change one's behavior. Besides, if law enforcement would waste tax payers money in trying to find a lost cell phone owned by a pretty blonde, they can come knocking on someone's door for what would be a safety issue.

Likely the drivers mentioned in these posts also speed regularly.Why would some one take a day's pay cut to go to court for a maybe conviction. This process makes little sense, other than serious criminal cases. Surely speed monitoring technology would regularly identify high risk drivers and the superintendent of motor vehices would suspend their licence-a wake up call to prevent a probable collision .

What is the hold up on speed camera technology in BC?

These posted complaints on enforcement are common -in many places in BC and driver behaviour is why injuries and costs are increasing on BC Roads.