Drivesmart column: To write, or not to write…

“Don’t you guys ever do anything else than write tickets?”

By Tim Schewe

“Don’t you guys ever do anything else than write tickets?” asked the visibly upset gentleman who had just been stopped for travelling at 86 km/h in the posted 60 km/h zone. “Can’t you give a guy a warning? This is my second ticket this year and I will owe ICBC a lot of money!”

What is a good answer to this man? He is obviously frustrated by the situation and probably upset with himself for driving like this in the first place.

Ask the people who live along this road and they will likely not by overly sympathetic to his predicament. After all, they have to get into and out of their driveways safely and they have family and friends that use the road regularly.

It could be worse. Penny Hamilton is a 72-year-old grandmother from Nanaimo. Last week she was unhappy with the way a vehicle was being driven “all over the road” in front of her so she passed it.

The trouble was that she chose to do so by reaching a speed of 120 km/h in a 90 zone, just as the posted speed dropped to 70 km/h.

This made her speed 50 km/h over the limit and caught the attention of South Island Traffic Services who issued her a $368 excessive speeding ticket. The law also requires the officer to impound the vehicle for seven days.

She was even more voluble than my driver and appeared on Chek TV complaining about her fate. She has a clean driving record, has never had an accident and wasn’t impaired. Why are you doing this to me?

What could possibly go wrong passing an erratic driver at a significant speed? Better to stay behind where that driver is in sight and you are in control of the situation.

Traffic enforcement tools are quite limited when you think about it. Police have a warning and a ticket to use, or a document compelling the driver to attend court for really serious violations.

Beyond that, about all they can do is write to RoadSafetyBC and suggest sanctions. RoadSafetyBC in my experience is generally not interested unless the driver has a medical or physical problem, but they do use the ticket total to decide on punitive action.

In my view, a warning was not appropriate for this speed and location, so I am left with the ticket. Am I a good guy or a bad guy? Regardless of my choice I will fall into one or both of these categories from the point of view of the driver, myself and other road users.

I wrote the ticket, because I’ve seen what happens when things go wrong on the highway. Dave Hay is a retired co-worker that was interviewed by Chek in a follow up story to Penny Hamilton. We share the same views.

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

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