Drivesmart: Am I making a difference with warnings?

The primary tools available to all traffic enforcement personnel are warnings and tickets.

The primary tools available to all traffic enforcement personnel are warnings and tickets.

How does one choose which is the most appropriate for the situation?

Deciding on an appropriate balance and delivering it to the violator in the manner that does the most good was something that I always found to be difficult.

In the face of more and more verbal abuse at the roadside it would have been simple just to reach for the ticket book and teach that driver a lesson.

However, if a warning was what I had in mind when I stopped them, shouldn’t I carry through with that thought? There were many times when I stuck to my original decision and wrote the warning. Most angry drivers settled down when they realized what they were getting, but a few carried on with such venom that I would find myself sitting at the roadside after they had driven away trying to lower my own blood pressure. Occasionally I would even go back to the office and do paperwork for a while because I knew that if I didn’t I would probably take it out on the next violator I encountered.

Did tickets change a driver’s attitude? If they are adult in their outlook, I would say yes. The driver would realize that they were ticketed for making an error or deliberately disobeying the rules and not let it happen again.

If they were a child, the problem would be mine, not theirs. There might be a slim possibility that they would make a connection between their behaviour and the ticket. If they didn’t care at all, my efforts would be wasted.

I’m still keeping the faith by writing on road safety instead of using a ticket book. To borrow a phrase from a friend who has suffered much and still tries to educate others about drinking and driving: “Together we can make a difference!”

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit