Tuesday, June 19, 2012
You do the speed limit on BC highways? Odds are you are a liar.
Over the weekend I drove to and from BC Interior and I'm here to confirm that speed anarchy is alive and well on the Coquihalla Highway. Not that it's a bad thing, but how can the speed limit, which is supposed to represent the UPPER limit of safe travel speed, be so out of touch with reality? Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, travels the speed limit of 110 kph on that road...not even the lone police truck that I followed which was responsible for a bottle neck which developed behind him at 20 clicks over.
Admittedly some people are not responsible enough, to see their driving limitations for what they are, and we need laws (and training and testing) to include them. However virtually everybody, that I associate with, feels that speed laws and enforcement in BC, and many places in Canada for that matter, are nothing short of a joke.
Accordingly when you set the law up as an ass, the predicable outcome is large numbers of people simply reject it. I happen to feel that I have more integrity than most, because I admit I am one of those people. In some circumstances, I might even travel faster than the general traffic flow when conditions dictate it's ok to do so... in my opinion (and why wouldn't I rely on MY opinion having logged well over a million miles which included far too many road signs in BC telling me to slow to 30k only to confirm yet again what previous driving experience showed me repeatedly I could safely do at 2 times what the sign told me was safe). So I now do what it appears everybody else does; I ignore signs and drive how I feel it's most safe to do so.
I'd like to see the bar raised so that good drivers are not punished and bad drivers are not on the road. Our definitions of good and bad drivers are are different than your government's definition whose focus is still primarily on demonizing the speeder... which is you and me. Don't tell me you don't speed because if you do, you are either a member of a very small (frequently annoying and dangerous) minority, a liar ... or simply not a driver.
There are many people like me, nearly everybody between Hope and Kamloops last weekend it seems, that will be at complete odds with the government and law enforcement until speed laws are set without politics as the basis, but instead with the idea that the reasonable actions of the reasonable majority are considered legal.
Have you ever pondered the psychology behind the deliberate left lane hogs in BC? Actually, I consider them a metaphor for a unique culture that we have developed in BC where it's considered a good thing to hold back the best people and make them suffer like everybody else. It happens with entrepreneurs, the wealthy, the educated, and all kinds of people .... and it's especially apparent with drivers. In fact, it's likely the underlying reason the NDP stands a good chance of winning the next election. It's called "misery loves company". The 12 rich asian teens, who had their sports cars impounded last year, comes to mind as an excellent example of an ignorant proletariat lynch mob that wanted retribution against those people who had everything they didn't have... and likely never will have. They must have been guilty...look at their cars after all!
It's weird, you can travel all over the planet and see some damn good driving on far worse roads and in worse vehicles than we have in BC. You see people working with each other to ensure traffic flow and safety. How can this be, that it's that way there and not here? Come here and it's adversarial. Shitty driving is not only tolerated, it's encouraged. In my opinion, this is a direct consequence of bad leadership that's been allowed to run roughshod over a public that's just too resigned to their stupidity to fight it. They (spineless politicians) have relied on opinions, with rare exception, from taxpayer funded people with vested interests (such as retired former police working for manufacturers of traffic "safety" or "enforcement" equipment) or concentrated experiences (ie police who view the world from the dashboard of a police cruiser) which have produced a certain mindset which is at odds with people like me who believe they know better. As a result, we've got laws to protect stupid drivers and punish good ones... in many cases.
We've got some of the best roads in the world, some of the most expensive and roadworthy automobiles... and yet some of the lowest speed limits in the industrialized world. How stupid and patronizing is it to hear over and over ... "but there are bad drivers who cannot handle speed or cars"? Are we really expected to believe there is a larger concentration of them here? Really?? Well, get them off the road or get them out of the way, but don't punish those who know better!! Germany absorbed their shitty drivers when the Iron Curtain fell. What sort of drivers do you think they are now that they've had to step up their game? I'll give you one guess.
Why bother to even build the super highways in the first place? One could actually say that transportation in BC with its high speed highways and irrational speed limits could best be described as Dr. Doolittle's "Pushmi-pullyu" ... a sort of paddling upstream, or a form of pissing in the wind. In fact, one might even look at this policy as a proxy for everything one sees wrong with government; spend a fortune on a super highway, then send out the uniformed tax collectors to clobber the drivers for driving as intended... a sort of double whammy. A double "FU", if you will.
Not long ago, I followed a driver who in my opinion was a very good driver; driving consistently in the right lane until he encountered a slower vehicle, signalling to pass on the left and signalling again to pull back in on the right when safe to do so. He left plenty of room between himself and other vehicles. He allowed them to pull in front of him when he anticipated that they would run out of lane space as they approached cars ahead. In short, a courteous and consistent driver. The kind I would feel safe being on the road with; the kind I could trust and anticipate his moves. In fact, my passenger and I were both discussing his driving as model behaviour. One problem, he was travelling about 15 to 20 over the 100 kph limit just west of Hope. What happened to him 10k to the West of Hope on Hwy 1? An RCMP cruiser, waiting on an on-ramp pulled in behind him to pull him over. I was curious so I pulled in behind the two vehicles and waited to ask him why he was being apprehended. The reason? RCMP had tracked him on the Coquihalla at over 40k over. And they'd tracked him by helicopter no less. Big boys and their toys. If you think that 150k on a highway like the Coquihalla in mid summer deserves points and a fine, let alone a vehicle seizure, then we do have a big rift in perception in terms of right and wrong.
Drivers vote with their right feet on that road and guess what? The correct speed limit is NOT 110 kph. A drivers' advocacy group which I am a co-founder of (SENSE www.sense.bc.ca) pressured the Liberals into doing an "independent" speed limit review. Have a look and see what they said about the Coquihalla. This is not rocket science.
I frequently reject road travel in BC because I am far more terrified of law enforcement than I am of encountering irresponsible and dangerous driving. And I say this as a motorcyclist that ended up, in the past, twice in hospital and nearly killed, after being struck by two drivers, on different occasions, that were dangerous for reasons other than their speed.
Yet I am more terrified of law enforcement? There is something wrong with this picture.