Do We Really Want Safe Roads?

Ticket WriterAccording to media reports some drivers are taking advantage of the current light traffic conditions to behave badly. When stopped by police and ticketed for their actions the latest response is "Why aren't you fighting the epidemic instead of writing tickets?" I have it on good authority that you are more likely to die in a traffic collision than you are from contracting the COVID-19 virus.

We have quickly taken extraordinary measures, including spending huge sums of money and drastically changing our everyday behaviour to prevent deaths due to the epidemic. Overt displays of disapproval from the majority toward the minority who do not conform to our new reality are commonplace.

Why is this not also commonplace with respect to unsafe road users? Do we really want safe roads?

British Columbia does have a Road Safety Strategy. Take a look at that web page. It appears that the strategy was last updated in 2016.

At the bottom of the page is information on a BC Communities Road Safety Survey conducted by RoadSafetyBC. 81 of 189 municipalities responded to the survey and all of them said that road safety was a priority in their communities. Overall, those responses indicate that organized programs, stakeholder consultation and the use of data for guidance was rare.

Fast forward five years and nothing has been done to check and see if there has been any improvement. This despite the provincial government having transferred significant amounts of money to municipalities for public safety use under the Traffic Fine Revenue Grant program.

Efficiencies in traffic enforcement were heralded in 2012's Bill 52 that was supposed to replace ticket disputes in traffic court with an administrative tribunal. This would exchange the time officers spent in court for more time on the road improving safety. This is still "over the horizon" for implementation when I last inquired.

Speaking of traffic court, I attended as a spectator last month. There was a lot of deal making between the officer and the disputant prior to trial. Many tickets were resolved by a guilty plea as the vehicle's registered owner instead of the driver. This means the driver did not receive penalty points or a driving record entry for the violation.

The latest version of the Intersection Safety Camera Program has also removed the owner's ability to nominate the driver. Under this program no one receives penalty points for behaviours that contribute to over 50% of collisions in B.C.

With a little planning and luck, one could rack up a few violations yet maintain a clean driving record and stay invisible to ICBC and RoadSafetyBC.

July 1, 2008 saw the requirement to report collisions to the police dropped from the Motor Vehicle Act. In March last year police were no longer required to report a crash to ICBC if they investigated one unless the damage exceeded $10,000 or involved injury or death.

How accurate are today's collision statistics, particularly those for distracted driving? If I failed to see a vehicle stopped in front of me and rear ended it, do you think that I'm going to tell ICBC that I was busy using my cellphone at the time?

My final observation is the cost of insurance for new drivers. $4,000 a year is unacceptable for an ICBC premium, yet that is the equivalent of what I paid when I bought my first car, a used Cutlass Salon. Hardly in the same class as a Camaro or Firebird.

I'll repeat my question, do we really want safe roads?

Apparently not. All the various levels of government have done lots of things to make it appear they are concerned, and doing something, but in reality are just passing the buck. As Shaekespear said "full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing."

My municipality receives approximately $1.5 million each year from the Traffic Fine Revenue Sharing program. The direction is that the money has to be spent on public safety. So the money just disappears into general revenue. The closest thing to public safety was to spend $500,000 on a command vehicle which mostly sits idle in the parking lot behind the police station. It is very occasionally used, and then mostly loaned out to other municipalities. I have never seen any of the $1.5 million actually used for anything resembling traffic safety.

Your assertion that traffic accidents pose a greater threat to Canadians than Covid-19 is simply wrong. In 2019 Canada recorded 1922 traffic deaths:…

So far in only a month, Canada has recorded 717 Covid19 deaths and the projected numbers run into several thousand:…

So yes, absolutely our police resources could be much better spent enforcing physical distancing measures during this pandemic crisis in the effort to save lives.

Speed traps should be at the bottom of Canada's list of priorities.

I did not make an assertion in the article, a health data professional did. I merely repeated it. I had asked for advice from them before I wrote that to insure that I passed along an accurate assessment of risk.

Speed traps did not make it into the conversation either. I only asked if we wanted safe roads and then gave examples that I felt supported an ambivalent view.

Traffic deaths are a significant cause of death in our province: Sadly, I don't see a change in that after COVID-19 is brought under control.

My own observation as of late is that drivers simply don't think the rules apply to them. As a dad whose daughter just got her " N ", I'm actually shocked at the amount of bad driving going on. The last 2 weeks I've witnessed, 4 drivers wait at a Red light and then creep into the intersection to see if it's safe and then go. Ummm I'm sorry, do the rules not apply to you? This isn't the Wild West! You can't just go because everybody is doing the right thing and staying home. People will ask why I  was out? I was simply getting groceries on a few occasions and travelling home from work on the others.

And as for the cost of ICBC Premiums for new Drivers, uggh don't get me started. ICBC new driver modelling policy is ridiculous. It seems BC pays the most for everything. Including Insurance. I imagine there will be a lot parents that leave their N drivers under their insurance until their N driver can at least get a few years of experience behind them.  Oh and that's another thing. Why does it take 15 years to get 40% discount on your insurance 15!!! When I was young it was 4 and most recently it was 9! Now it's 15?!??!? C'mon! No wonder new drivers don't even bother or want to bother. It would seem Uber and Lyft and other driver options can't get to BC soon enough!!!!


Ok off my rant box now. Stay safe everyone.

First time I was involved with traffic safety would have been late 70's. I put a lot of research into it and discussed with a few driving schools. One of the largest in Vancouver at the time as soon as I mentioned why I was interested the owner said sorry not interested. End of conversation. One owner told of his frustrations. The vast majority of students were not interested in learning to drive only in passing the drivers test. At this establishment I talked to the owner and four instructors and all voiced similar concerns. The student could pass the exam but in their opinion would have benefited with more hours behind the wheel especially with driving on the highway. Drivers test never involved highway.

More amusing was the mother I was talking to and she said a licence was a privilege not a right then turned around and said there was no way she would pay for driving lessons for her kids.

Would have been in the mid 80's before I quit getting correspondence regarding that task force and as usual nothing happened.

One of my major complaints is the limited number of regulations that are enforced. When you ask why more sections of the MVA are not enforced usual response is Judge would probably dismiss, easier to lay charges for speeding or not wearing seat belts and your guaranteed a conviction. Less time in Court and less effort put in. In other words we only enforce what is the easiest.

I was in a supervisory position most of my working career and ran my own business for years. Over the last couple of decades all companies are required to have monthly safety meetings and minutes had to be recorded. I was involved with contracting and had to submit minutes of our safety meetings to the company we were contracting for.

If an accident happened in an active work area both the contractor and licencee were required by WCB to investigate and submit reports. There was a joint meeting between the licencee and all contractors again with minutes and participation by all personnel shortly after the accident and another meeting when the final reports were received. These were in addition to the monthly meetings. Every accident was reviewed and each worker on site had an opportunity to make suggestions on improving safety. Recommendations were often implemented immediately and in some cases prior to work proceeding.

Now take a vehicle accident investigated by the police. The highway is shut down for hours while they investigate. Does everyone involved or in the area get a chance to participate? What happens to these reports?  Are they ever released? Can you obtain copies? What recommendations come out of them? Do they result in changes? Do the accident investigators change their practices or do they continue on enforcing the same old regulations with no change?

We all know that we are the worlds best driver and if the cops would only charge the other idiots. But have you ever taken a close look at your own driving? When was the last time you took a refresher course? Are you cognisant of what is going on around you? Do you position your vehicle in the correct lane and in a manner to offer the least resistance to other road users?

My final thought on road safety is you have the same company enforcing safety in your factory for over a 100 years and they are still enforcing the same rules they did in 1920. Could it be that they are going in with preconceived ideas and fitting the accident to fit their ideals? Could it be they need a fresh outlook and quit limiting their vision? Maybe the problem is the safety inspectors and not the workers.

From my experience in the work world some of the best ideas and safety improvements came from the workers themselves and not from the safety inspector or supervisors. If you have preconceived ideas past on to you by your instructors and you are passing them along to the employees could it be you are still trying to drive that round peg into that square hole?