Tim Schewe

Drivesmart column: Improving everything except drivers

I think that we should be doing more to improve our driving than renewing our licence every 5 years.

By Tim Schewe

I’m becoming paranoid when I drive.

I know how easy it is to make a mistake because even though I am paying attention and trying not to, I make them.

Watching others while I’m driving impresses on me that I’m not alone.

Sometimes it is difficult to decide if it is a genuine error or simply a case of not being bothered to drive well, but I suspect that there is a lot of the latter taking place on our roads.

The insurance costs of collisions have become too high to bear, so our politicians have solved that problem for us by removing our ability to sue for damages in most cases.

Instead, ICBC will provide “enhanced accident benefits” and will be able to avoid the expense of trials.

There have been some reports of claims difficulties already, but it remains to be seen if they are simply the result of getting used to a new system or not.

I’m a cynic, ICBC is not there to represent your interests, like any other insurance company they simply want to settle your claim fairly for the least cost staying in compliance with the framework created by our government.

My local traffic enforcement unit has about half of its positions filled with effective on road resources right now.

Ask the provincial government about available resources and they respond that they fund “x” resources across the province. Ask the police about traffic enforcement resources and they respond with nothing.

Despite the fact that you are most likely to suffer financial loss, injury or death through the use of your automobile than all other criminal offences combined, police resource priorities are on what the public often told me was “real crime.”

As in,“Why aren’t you fighting real crime instead of wasting my time with this traffic ticket?”

Some days I marvel that automated enforcement in the form of intersection safety cameras has gotten the foothold it has in our municipalities. Cameras apply monetary penalties to vehicle owners, but the driver is not held to account for violations.

Many of us do not like automated enforcement of any sort and are very vocal about it.

This includes some of our politicians.

We’ve had strategies and visions of road safety over the years. These are good things, if they work.

We seem to be adept at explaining where we want to go, but rarely do I find a document that explains the path we’ve taken and what the outcomes were.

Especially pointing out that improvements were actually due to the change we’ve made rather than being a general trend.

For the most part, we still seem to be stuck with the same old drivers.

Remember ICBC’s online refresher test that only 40 per cent of participants passed?

Maybe that is why I see what I do when I drive.

We’re resistant to ending our driving careers too.

This week’s case law article involves an older lady who is a pillar of the community that made a serious of dangerous actions that ended with a toddler being hit.

She wanted the five year driving prohibition she received for driving without due care and attention reduced and a higher fine instead.

The appeal justice made an oblique reference to the fact that some older drivers choose to surrender their licence before things like this happen.

It might be inconvenient or even painful, but I think that we should be doing more to improve our driving than simply renewing our licence every five years.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. Visit DriveSmartBC.ca to comment or learn more.

Column