The hierarchy of priorities for police
By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, June 9th 2017
Among other things, police are entrusted with the responsibility of protecting us from ourselves.
Drunk drivers are a scourge in our society.
It is only proper that the apprehension of impaired drivers is atop police officers’ agenda.
There are not many people who would disagree with this enforcement activity.
Roadblocks and spot checks are overwhelmingly supported by the public.
The second greatest cause of death and injury is excessive speed.
There is special attention paid to school and playground zones.
The speed tolerance above the posted limit allowed in these locations is much lower than on the open highway system.
Intersections are among the highest fatality and serious-injury locations in our province.
The side-impact T-bone crash is the worst.
Police target intersections for enforcement, looking for everything from red-light runners to late left turns in front of oncoming traffic.
Pedestrians are particularly in peril at intersections. Protecting them is a priority.
Texting while driving is rampant.
It is now the number one cause of crashes in the U.S., and we are not far behind.
Lately, the police are attempting to develop policy concerning drivers impaired by marijuana and other related substances.
All of the above enforcement activity is laudable.
There is one point that is worth addressing.
Many of the lesser infractions have been largely ignored by enforcement authorities, while their attention has been in the area of protecting the public from possible tragedy as a result of the commission of major traffic violations and offenses.
As a result, very few drivers, and even fewer cyclists, actually stop completely at a stop sign, unless obstructed by cross traffic, whether vehicular or pedestrian.
A recent survey of a typical four-way stop intersection saw only five per cent of the unobstructed motor vehicle drivers actually come to a complete stop at the intersection.
Many drivers do not signal an intention to turn or change lanes.
When did signalling become optional?
Cyclists without helmets are numerous, especially in the downtown core.
They ride on the sidewalk, against traffic on a one-way street, and seldom signal an intention.
The most common crash is the rear-end collision. How many times have we seen a ticket issued for tailgating?
A solid amber traffic light means stop, unless one is too close to the intersection to execute a safe stop.
It does not mean speed up.
Many of these lesser infractions seem unimportant to many drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, but they form the backbone of our traffic system.
Compliance is what makes our system work so well.
The vast majority of citizens voluntarily comply with regulations enacted to keep us all safe.
In every jurisdiction where compliance is lacking, lesser charges become the order of the day.
Remember how our parents told us to look after the pennies and the dollars would look after themselves?
Pennies are history, but the old adage rings true.
It is a matter of time before the police are going to address these lesser infractions with a zero-tolerance policy.
Let’s all try to be more attentive so they don’t have to go that route.