We Are Not Serious About Road Safety

SoapboxI learned this week that Canadians are considered to rank 42nd out of 50 countries based on how good they are to drive in. This disappointed me until I sat back and thought about it a bit. Based on a bit of self examination and what I see happen around me when I drive I think that I have to say that we are not serious about road safety. Financial loss, injury and death are part of the cost of allowing everyone to move when and where they wish to.


We follow the rules when it suits us to and we can easily justify in our own minds doing what we want to when it does not. A survey conducted by Insights West for ICBC shows that we are aware of the importance of safe driving and give ourselves high marks for safety (82%), attentiveness (79%), knowledge (78%) and courteousness (76%).

Nearly nine-in-ten drivers report having had a near miss, but are more likely to say another driver was responsible.

Driving on our highways requires co-operation, not competition.


When we first obtain our class 5 driver's licences we possess the minimum skills necessary to drive safely. Few people choose to undergo further training to raise their skill level voluntarily. Our government does nothing to encourage or require it, even when we show that our skills may be lacking due to a collision or accumulation of traffic ticket convictions.

Automated Enforcement

Intersection safety cameras don't carry the level of political danger that photo radar did, so we have them at intersections with high crash rates. I hate the term "cash grab" but I'll allow that this scheme approaches it. Run a red light at high speed as many times as you wish to. As long as you pay the fine, you're good to go. There are no penalty points, no entry on a driving record and no way to designate the culprit if it was not you, the vehicle owner.

Prohibitions as a Punishment

If you are a new driver, beware! The second traffic ticket in a year will likely mean that you will prohibited from driving for a short period to teach you to follow the rules. If you are an experienced driver, relax, it will probably take 4 convictions in a year to trigger a sanction for you.

Prohibitions don't always work though. Dennis Dafoe is one example of that.

Traffic Court

Occasionally after a conviction in a case behind decided in traffic court where the driving involved was out of the ordinary, the officer prosecuting would ask the justice for a period of prohibition as the penalty. I never saw this imposed in the 20 years I spent watching trials. Instead, I heard something along the lines of "I'll let the Superintendent decide on whether the accused should be prohibited or not."

The Cost of ICBC Insurance

Crashes were costing ICBC too much money so our government took decisive steps to solve that problem, reduce the amount of money that it cost to cover claims. This has not worked out well for some who have suffered losses as they are no longer able to sue for damages.

There was no mention of doing something more to reduce the collision rate and the need for claims to be made.

We're All Responsible

Here are some of your suggestions for solving the problem.

I wonder who has decided for us that there are few consequences for those who do not follow the rules of the road.

I think most concerned drivers have given up, but I do see RCMP ticketing people on occasion here. I suspect police are busy with the social issues created by the same liberalists who think everyone should have easy access to drugs and stealing shopping carts to camp in public parks is a right under some constitution.

Letters do not work. I think our generation needs to actively pressure elected people for more accountability and non-voluntary care for those who are a danger in vehicles and in our parks and streets.

Amazing to see that almost 80% of people support to have cameras spying on their lives. If I remember well at one point there was a legal action to remove the cameras because people wanted to have their privacy back

I guess that is not longer the case

In my opinion this whole bad driving thing is basically created by allowing the speed limit to be exceeded most of the time. Once a driver experiences getting away with speeding almost continuously all other bad habits follow subconsciously or even deliberately. 

Has this thought maybe got merit and needs to be explored further?

The issue with ICBC is a serious one. Our former Attorney General and now Premier decided, as you note, ICBC claims costs were too high so he simply eliminated the ability to claim rightful damages. Voila.  Everyone get a token rebate cheque to celebrate this marvellous accomplishment.

Think about this for a moment. Consider the family whose 2 year old daughter was killed on a Vancouver sidewalk as a result of a collision while being held in her father’s arms. ICBC awarded the family $15,000 in damages to compensate for the little girl’s life. There is, as you point out, no right to appeal. Can you get your head around that?A decision I gather by some minion in a cubicle at ICBC.

To make this situation more egregious, our current Premier was a Civil Rights lawyer prior to entering politics. You would think he would have more respect for the rights of individuals and for the requirements of due process. But no, he decided the ends justified him ignoring these niceties.

I think you get my point. While not directly relating to road safety, it largely absolved ICBC and individuals who are at fault from significant liability.  This would seem to give a pass to bad behaviour and certainly not promote road safety.

Indeed, I find it ironic that David Eby has a history of fighting for civil rights.  

Consider the family whose 2 year old daughter was killed on a Vancouver sidewalk as a result of a collision while being held in her father’s arms. ICBC awarded the family $15,000 in damages to compensate for the little girl’s life.

But then again ... ICBC had incurred huge debt - which we all pay for whether we realize it or not - and under the 'old' sytem the lawyers grabbed most of the funds regardless. It was completely adversarial. And frankly, how do you put a value on human life?

So maybe David Eby is fighting for all of us, rather than just the obvious victims. And as a commercial vehicle operator, I think this is great.