The aim of traffic enforcement is not to raise revenue for the government. Too often I hear the words “cash grab” in relation to traffic tickets. Like it or not, this is our current system for attempting to dissuade drivers from practicing behaviours that put themselves or others at risk on our highways.
Money is an efficient tool to assign value to something, and we have a well-organized system for transferring it. The traffic laws codify how we are to behave when we drive, and the ticketing system provides the deterrent by setting a value based on the risk involved in the particular bad behaviour.
Penalty points are a negative reinforcement for those who fail to follow the rules more frequently.
Is this a good system? Like anything else, it depends on your point of view. If you are the recipient of a ticket I doubt that you are likely to be pleased. If you are a recipient of the effects of poor driving behaviour, perhaps you feel that it doesn’t go far enough. It’s not perfect, but it is what we have.
So, what would you do if you were responsible for traffic safety? Would you make small changes or institute a completely different system for encouraging safe driving? Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will post them with this article on the DriveSmartBC web site.
I’ve been watching a number of conversations in the newspaper and social media lately, mostly with regard to B.C.’s slow down, move over law, but including changes to other traffic laws as well. The general theme has been that the government has been doing a poor job of telling the public what the new laws are and how we are supposed to follow them. Perhaps I am sensitive to road safety topics and pay more than the average attention to them, but I must disagree with this characterization.
There was significant publicity of the slow down, move over law both prior to and when it was enacted. I saw it on TV, in the newspaper and heard about it on the radio. I continue to pass large signs beside the highway that tell me what to do. I’ve seen articles on television and in print publications recently.
What may be closer to the truth is that we are bombarded by too much information every day. To cope with it, we ignore or do not apply full focus to all of the messages that are being given to us.
As long as no damage is done to us or by us because of this, it isn’t a significant problem. However, if common sense doesn’t kick in soon enough and we receive a ticket or hurt someone it’s probably not the government’s fault here.
We may wish to be careful how we complain on this subject. Possible alternatives could include mandatory testing before licence renewal with shorter licence renewal periods to make sure that we are up to date.
As with any other important skill, we have a stake in keeping ourselves up to date in order to remain proficient. It’s not just a job for our government.
Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. To comment or learn more, visit www.drivesmartbc.ca.