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Honesty and perspective

Tuesday, February 14th, 2006

Unfortunately here in British Columbia we have made a decision that vehicle driving skills are less important than the risk of injury and damage in an accident: the driver’s test is trivial and there is no mandatory retesting until a very advanced age, and then I believe only every five years.  Enforcement is sporadic.  Here in Victoria, as well as the run of the mill “bad” drivers, as a retirement haven we also have a large elderly population driving, many of whom should no longer be on the road.

And a couple of such old folks backed into my car, wrecking one car door, while I was off for a walk.  It’s the fifth time in two years a local driver has banged into my car when parked and then left the scene, although the others were mostly quite minor.  The good news: two witnesses took the time to provide details on what they saw (vehicle description, license, etc.) and provided that info.  It’s a criminal offence to leave the scene of an accident, with up to two years in jail.  So those folks are in quite a bit of trouble.

I’m grateful to those good folks who took the time to get involved.  I think most people have such good intentions.  And most people I’ll bet consider themselves “good” drivers while very few are driving defensively, with attention and focus, anticipating and reacting to keep them and others safe.  It seems skewed that so many parents are concerned with issues like their children being kidnapped by a stranger (which I understand is a very rare occurance in Canada), yet are nonchalant about the far higher risk they expose their children to every time they put them in the car and chat on a cel phone.

On the other hand, if driving tests were truly designed to ensure driver competence, I suspect that many, many people would not be able to get a license.  That would have a significant social and economic impact which, as a society, we’ve decided is more important than the damage, injury and deaths that occur.

So I suspect that the status quo will remain: folks will blame “dangerous” roads (I’ve yet to hear of a road actively attacking anyone), the “other guy”, cars that “came out of no-where” and the weather.

Categories: Musings
  1. Francois
    Saturday, February 18th, 2006 at 1:33 pm

    Very true…. unfortunately. As a former racing driver, a driving freak (not car freak, or at least not as much) and as a motorcycle rider, I am very aware of what happens around me….. and extremely defensive.

    In over 35 years and nearly a million kilometers now, I only had one little accident….. sliding into a parked car on blackice….. but many dents in my cars with no ‘witnesses’. Very frustrating AND expensive !

    But although we have a LOT more stringent drivers and riders training in most European countries, and expensive and difficult driving/riding tests, I don’t think there is much difference in the danger/damage levels….. traffic is so dense here and streets so narrow, that lots of accidents happen allthe same 😦

  2. Saturday, February 18th, 2006 at 2:24 pm

    Good point, François, our traffic density here in BC is relatively very low and we don’t have the teensy one-lane roads one sees in Europe. So we shouldn’t be bumping into each other so much!

    Indeed a couple of days after this there was a piece on Seattle TV channel about a “dangerous” stretch of road they are upgrading to four lanes, with a median. You would have laughed: wide lanes, wide shoulders, long gentle curves, good visibility. It’s “dangerous” because there is no passing lane and people take chances.

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