We must get tougher on excessive speed
By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, July 14th 2017
In the past few weeks, there have been several instances of extreme speed violations, and discussion about what should be done about the problem.
The recent examples of the Ferrari driver caught by police travelling at 210 km/h in a 60 km/h zone on the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver, and another Ferrari driver from Langford doing 125 km/h in an 80 km/h zone on the Malahat last Saturday, raise concerns about the appropriate penalties for such offences.
While fines might change the behaviour of most drivers caught speeding, when a driver is behind the wheel of a quarter-million-dollar vehicle, driving at 210 km/h, a financial deterrent is not likely to work.
Driving suspension is the only real alternative to modify this dangerous type of driving.
(In the case of the Lions Gate Bridge, the driver — who was previously caught doing 130 km/h on the same bridge — lost his licence for 16 months, his car was impounded for 60 days, and he is due in court in September to face charges of excessive speed and driving without due care and attention.)
B.C. laws allow for vehicles involved in excessive speeding to be impounded for a week or longer.
This is not a deterrent for the super rich.
They could just go buy another vehicle, pay the fine and carry on. Of course, the accumulation of multiple penalty points would eventually result in a driving suspension.
How many people would be at risk of injury or death before the driving prohibition kicks in, however?
The only way to end this type of risk to others is an immediate driving suspension of several months.
Repeat offenders should progressively lose their driving privileges and even go to jail.
The police have the enforcement tools.
In fact, they are very good at it.
Although the speed of 130 km/h on a bridge does seem less offensive than the 210-km/h example, one must consider the fact that there is virtually no escape for other drivers or pedestrians in such a confined road space as a bridge or tunnel.
There is a reason these confined spaces are so popular for excessive speeders.
Older radar units had problems identifying speeders because the beam sent out would bounce off the railings and sides of tunnels.
The new laser radar units have no such problem, and are amazingly accurate in all circumstances.
The two most dangerous places to be while driving are at an intersection or on a high-speed highway or freeway.
We already have cameras at intersections.
So that begs the question: Should we have radar cameras on the highway?
The photo-radar vans of decades ago are probably not going to be reborn.
What is now being proposed by several members of the public and other agencies is a time-and-distance photo-radar system.
Cameras would be placed at the entrance to a stretch of road, and the time it took a driver to traverse the predetermined route would be noted.
If the time did not match an appropriate speed for the measured distance, a speeding ticket would be issued.
The expense, implementation and functioning of such a proposed system seem daunting, not to mention the previous arguments of decades past for and against such a system of enforcement.
It is long past time that significant penalties were enacted for excessive speeding.
If a driver wants to go 210 km/h, then go to a racetrack.
There should be no second chances for someone going that fast on a public road.
But we will probably not take action until a sensationally catastrophic crash results in death.
When will we become proactive about the threat to life and limb? Will we remain a reactive lot?
The police are frustrated.
They do not have the tools to get dangerous drivers off the road. They need support.
The time has come.