Times in Trail

Times in Trail: Targeting left-lane hoggers more political than practical

"It’s more fanfare than substance considering the police have a hard enough time cracking down on distracted drivers"

The government may be struggling when it comes to supporting our school system, post-secondary students, low-income families and the environment but don’t let them ever be accused of being soft on driving.

In much the same vein as our federal government is trying to scare us with dire warnings of impeding terrorist attacks and the need for constant surveillance of Canadians to keep us safe, the B.C. government has rolled out its latest crackdown in an attempt to keep us all safe from … left-lane hoggers.

In the never-ending political strategy to garner votes from the biggest possible segment, the government put its finger on one of the easiest demographics in the Lower Mainland – commuters.

Left-lane hogging isn’t such an issue in our area with limited four-lane highways but if you’re one of a million commuters in the Lower Mainland, then that two-hour drive to and from work is certainly something you can relate to.

Obviously Trans-portation Minister Todd Stone has spent enough time angry at someone stuck in the passing lane that he was prompted to do something about it.

That will certainly resonate with the commuter voters that are abundant in the Lower Mainland and, to a lesser extent, in the Okanagan and Vancouver Island.

It’s more fanfare than substance considering the police have a hard enough time cracking down on distracted drivers, who can be found in every corner of the province.

Now they’re asking police to start tracking people who linger too long in the passing lane.

This is the same government that passed a bill allowing police to issue suspensions even if you aren’t over the legal limit of alcohol consumption.

This is the same government that, due to a backlash from the liquor and restaurant industries over the new rules, had to remind people it was okay to have a drink or two and still drive.

Mixed messages are a daily occurrence with the current government.

It proudly proclaimed that the tougher drinking and driving laws have saved dozens of lives since it was enacted in 2010 and tweaked in 2012.

So on one hand the government boasts that it is saving lives yet on the other hand this is the same crew, with Stone in charge, which announced last year it was raising speed limits on some routes.

In case you’re keeping score at home, the B.C. government says it’s okay to have a drink and drive fast, just stay out of the left lane.

Is this just another case of the government “looking” like it’s doing something without really doing anything?

The federal Conservative Party has proven a master of this with its big announcements filled with fanfare and billboards on spending and improvements only to find out two years down the road that the money was never spent or the changes have yet to be enacted.

Adding another duty to an already busy docket for police officers in B.C. isn’t the answer. Nor are the snazzy new signs the government will be buying, although that might be a decent reminder for drivers in the midst of breaking the law.

I always believe in being proactive but for a government that appears to do anything but support education for its citizens, I have little faith the government would ever consider educating young drivers before they even hit the highway.

Instead, they’ll try and scare us with the threat of fines and have police watching for anyone in the passing lane.

Heaven forbid the car you’re passing speeds up, which does happen, keeping you in the passing lane and facing the threat of a ticket.

With the Liberals LNG pipe dream still at the dream stage, there had to be another way to generate some revenue from its citizens.

Oh, and ironically, not much in the recent budget on highway maintenance, especially on the Trans-Canada between Revelstoke and Golden, which claimed lives in the past few months.

The government will tell you it saved dozens of lives with tougher laws but won’t tell you how many lives have been lost due to inadequate highway maintenance. There’s no splashy, positive way to deliver that message.

I don’t agree with Premier Christy Clark very often but she certainly had a point when she mentioned her mother’s driving habits.

“I think about my 75-year-old mother driving down the road, and sometimes she’s in the wrong lane, and it might be really frustrating for the people behind her. But we should try to be respectful and civil about that.”

That was one thing my Dad always reminded me about when it came to patience and driving.

Don’t get frustrated by a slow car ahead of you, it might be someone who drives once a week and is simply off to visit a friend. Back off and your chance to pass will come eventually.

That might seem to make sense in our area but not for the mass commuters in the Lower Mainland.

Anything to get them home quicker is sure to garner votes.

And that’s where all roads lead when it comes to politics.

Guy Bertrand is the managing editor of the Trail Times.

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