After further review…

One of the most amusing driving situations I can think of is when a driver behind me is so restless and in such a hurry that they change lanes and burn by me (often armed with a snide, righteous look) only to have me calmly pull up next to them at the next red light or because the highway lane they pulled into grinds to a halt. I am often so tempted to roll down the window and calmly say hello. However, my Amazing Race Canada window stickers do a good job of identifying me and the speeding crazies might be just that, crazy. No use antagonizing anyone just to be “right”. My, how I’ve grown over the years. 🙂

I’m sure that most of these drivers are not considering the potentially dangerous impacts of their actions, namely weaving in and out of lanes at high speeds, so I doubt even more that they are conscious of the careless waste of gas (and therefore their money) inherent in such manoeuvres. I like to think that anyone who considers the risks and the costs of reckless behaviour would stop what they were doing, but we live in a me-first world where these people consider only their own narrow interests. 

When I was younger, I ONCE drove from Highway 401 at Port Hope, Ontario to the Quebec border averaging between 145-150 km/h, on wet roads. Thankfully, I lived to tell the story and none of my fellow motorists paid the price for my stupidity.

Since these self-important drivers (and I count my own attitude during the above incident in this category) won’t police themselves, they have to be policed in other ways. Some drivers, like me, only learn the lesson after getting a speeding ticket and considering how the traffic stop made me arrive later than I would have had I just driven at the speed limit. Other drivers never get the message, likely because they have committed so many road infractions and have only gotten caught a handful of times because of the lack of police resources. Well, police in Quebec now have another resource – photo radar and photo surveillance at red lights. 

I was staunchly against the use of this technology when a trial was announced in 2008, seeing it as a money grab. But now, having seen the response of drivers at the red light at Decarie and Pare, where there has been a dramatic decrease in drivers running the light and causing gridlock, and in the speed trap near The Boulevard where speeds are noticeably reduced, I have changed my mind. After further review, I believe we need MORE of these cameras.

Now I don’t believe that these cameras should replace police patrols, but I see them as a useful complementary strategy to change drivers’ attitudes. The warning signs posted before each intersection should be kept to ensure that the focus is on safety and not on income for the city or province, and a certain tolerance must be maintained but not published for speed infractions. For example, no one should be ticketed for driving at 73 km/h in a 70 zone to account for inaccurate speedometers. 

If the legislator’s intention is honourable, this powerful (though imperfect) technology can be extremely beneficial to any city.  

Perhaps if we change drivers’ attitudes and behaviours enough, our government will let Montrealers join the rest of North American society and turn right on red lights.

Slow and steady wins the race. In this case, winning refers less to arriving quickly and more to arriving safely (and allowing others to arrive safely too.)

Drive safely and happy holidays!

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