Touchy-feely sessions no substitute for consequences

What absolute conceit and idiocy is this?

Touchy-feely sessions no substitute for consequences

My mind is boggled; so let me see if I have this right, and yes, I have paraphrased and plagiarized published news article(s):

More and more research and data are showing that distracted driving is now killing more people than impaired driving in some provinces.

According to the B.C. government, distracted driving kills an average of 78 people each year in British Columbia. That’s correct: kills. There are no data that would include those injured and maimed in these occurrences.

Certainly they cannot, under any circumstances, be labeled as “an accident”. They are the direct result of a deliberate choice on the part of the driver.

Despite an increase in fines, penalty points, and numerous campaigns stating the dangers of not giving the road full attention, distracted driving persists.

At any time all of us can witness the ridiculous number of drivers who are either on the phone or looking down at something or other and who are not observed by the law enforcement agencies. Certainly attention to the road is not their prime intent or purpose.

And this is the bit that I really don’t understand: despite and in spite of all this solid data, somebody somewhere decided that these drivers are being really naughty and should be given a really good talking to.

The TV news outlets and other sources are reporting that Victoria police have come up with a different approach, and partnered with Restorative Justice Victoria, ICBC, RoadSafetyBC, and the Traffic Injury Research Foundation to deliver an interactive distracted driving seminar wherein first time offenders will now be able to attend a three-hour restorative justice seminar, instead of paying the roughly $500 fine.

VicPd embarked on a two-day distracted driving enforcement campaign, and issued 42 tickets. Of the 42 offenders, 32 elected to attend the seminar.

Well now, there’s a big surprise, who’d have thunk that those caught with their fingers in the electronic cookie jar would elect to attend a three-hour sit-down instead of paying a paltry $500 fine, points and an increase in insurance premiums?

The idea is to offer each offender the opportunity to take responsibility for their actions, while being informed of how much damage distracted driving has done.

“Take responsibility for their actions”? That might be a bit late if the result of their reckless actions has already wrought havoc on others who are unfortunate enough to get in their path.

And get this: early results are encouraging, opines communications coordinator Bowen Osoko “It’s hard to feel the change in the room without being there but the seminar appeared, to myself at least, to have an initial effect on many participants.”

What absolute conceit and idiocy is this? It is definitely worth repeating the dangerous and disturbing part of this statement in which real science and concrete evidence has obviously been applied, especially as it “appeared, to myself at least”.

And there’s more — “The Traffic Injury Research Foundation did a post-seminar survey which showed that a large majority at least felt as though they would change their behaviour.”

Oh goody, that surely sets my mind at ease when the large majority “at least felt as though they would change their behaviour”. I feel so much more reassured and of course, ever-so-safe now that they’ve been subjected to a first-class touchy-feely talking to.

I was under the impression that the penalties for this offence are mandatory and not open to any form of discussion or wriggle room and if this is so, then the fines and penalties should have been vigorously applied in addition to the offenders being required to attend the seminar.

And if the penalties are mandatory, then are the authorities themselves flouting the law?

Isn’t it about time the law was applied equally as it was intended to be, instead of arbitrarily at the whim of a faceless bureaucracy?

How long do you think it will be before the lawyers start a class action suit with those already convicted of distracted driving who weren’t offered the choice to absolve themselves or escape the repercussions of their ignorant actions?

The next time you get issued with a ticket for any of the multitude of traffic offences, be it even a minor one, why not ask the authorities if you can waive the fine and attend a seminar? What do you think the answer will be?

Michael Wilson

Cobble Hill

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