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Behind-the-Wheel

What's your road attitude?

Perhaps the most effective way to improve road safety is by improving road-user attitude.

If selfish and unsafe behaviours can be shown as detrimental and users convinced to choose what is beneficial on their own, reaching our Vision Zero targets have a better chance of being successful.

Some people are willing to change their outlook when it makes sense to do so, but we also share the road with those who are not willing.

A prime example of those who are not willing was found in a letter to the editor of the Nanaimo News Bulletin on July 25, attributed to a D. Parker of Victoria.

I have just received a $167 ticket. I was photographed at the Norwell Drive-Island Highway intersection supposedly running a red light on a left turn. The photo shows my vehicle travelling through the intersection while all traffic in the oncoming lane was at a standstill so still observing a red light.

I was not aware that photo radar was back in vogue. I cannot remember seeing any warning signs as to this cash trap anywhere.

I am a pensioner who was just returning from a very nice trip with my wife and four grandkids in Parksville, so I was not about to take any chances. We live in Victoria, but wanted to stop for lunch at one of your local restaurants then take our grandkids to two local attractions and buy gas.

Therefore, this unscheduled stop has now ended up costing me and my family the $167 ripoff and the $225 we spent on local businesses – a total of $392.

The ticket I received distinctly says this money will be used to support the municipality’s cost of local policing. Well, you won’t be getting any more from our family – I will stop in a friendlier municipality in future.

Here's a driver who ran a red light while making a left turn and received a red light camera ticket in the mail for that action. He justifies himself by saying that he is a pensioner who doesn't take risks, opposing traffic was stopped and he wasn't told that a red light camera was in operation at that intersection.

The $167 penalty was a ripoff and from now on he's going to prefer visits to municipalities that don't have red light cameras.

All of this does not change the fact that he made a very human error and failed to stop as required for a red light. He did not cause a collision, this time.

This particular intersection had the highest number of reported collisions in Nanaimo from 2011 to 2015 according to ICBC's crash map. 140 of the 301 crashes resulted in casualties.

No doubt road users who failed to follow traffic signal directions played a role in establishing that total, but we are not told what the contributing factors were via the map.

Do you think that the real message in that letter to the editor was "I don't like the fact that automated enforcement is holding me to account for my mistake."

On the subject of automated enforcement, I saw an interesting Tweet last week from @JRogers202:

  •     It's irresponsible to call this a speed trap. Like calling cameras in a bank a robbery trap. JUST. DRIVE. THE. SPEED. LIMIT.


He was referring to photo radar which the Capital Regional District Traffic Safety Commission is trying to have returned to the Malahat Highway.

The proposed system is different from the Safari van sitting at the roadside that measured your speed as you passed it. The point-to-point system calculates your average speed over a set distance instead.

Experience with this scheme in Europe shows reductions in speed and significant reductions in collisions.

Rate pressures for our Autoplan insurance are increasing right along with our collision claims and costs.

A recent report done for ICBC suggests increasing automated enforcement, adding 100 new IRSU positions and enabling the red light camera's ability to do speed enforcement on green.

It also suggests implementing automated enforcement technologies to counter distracted driving as they become available.

If the cost of collisions is not reduced, Autoplan may have to become a no fault plan in order to keep insurance rates affordable. I would rather see rates kept low by collision reduction instead.

Story URL: http://www.drivesmartbc.ca/behaviour/driver-attitude-and-automated-enforcement

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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