Truck News


Public shouldn’t buy government line on photo radar

If you were to talk to any truck driver - either rookies or the experienced among us - and ask them what some of their beefs are, you would soon realize that the poor quality of drivers is a top conce...

If you were to talk to any truck driver – either rookies or the experienced among us – and ask them what some of their beefs are, you would soon realize that the poor quality of drivers is a top concern.

Unfortunately, much of the new legislation being thrust onto our highways to correct the problem is flawed and ineffective.

A good example of the problem is the introduction of photo radar in jurisdictions such as B.C. It is not immediate, it is reactionary, and it can’t detect aggressive driving. It simply can’t be used as a replacement for on-road enforcement.

Consider Joe Average, who is traveling to the cottage for the long weekend at a high rate of fuel consumption. He has left the house two hours later than planned and the amount of traffic going north has ticked him off. He has undoubtedly cut off a few fellow motorists and passed countless others on the right, not to mention tailgating and simply forgetting that he has a signal light. This is the type of character who needs to be slowed down and ticketed.

While politicians may be quick to point to photo radar as the solution, Joe probably won’t even be aware that he had his picture taken, and, without a stern lecture from an officer, will likely continue to be a menace all the way to the cottage.

A ticket that comes in the mail two weeks after the fact does nothing but generate revenue. It simply comes too late for a driver to reflect upon his/her attitude at the time of the offence. The deterrent is lost.

Photo radar systems and red light cameras are also reactionary, simply capitalizing on events that are already taking place.

The idea that speeding in and of itself constitutes “aggressive” driving is also flawed. It becomes aggressive when the driver also passes illegally, doesn’t signal intentions, tailgates or is involved in an array of other stunts.

I maintain that the flow of traffic is always more important than the speed limit itself.

True aggressive driving usually happens for fleeting moments when there is no law enforcement presence on the road, and photo radar is ill equipped to detect or prevent it.

Let’s also consider the fact that photo-radar vans routinely park on the shoulder of the road to get a clear picture of your car’s tail end as you drive by. Intentionally parking on the shoulder is an unsafe practice. Shoulders are designed to provide a margin of error and for emergencies.

If strategic parking on the shoulder of a highway is as safe as the RCMP would have you believe, then why can’t fatigued truck drivers park alongside the roadway when they are tired? These same officers are likely to pull out ticket books if they find us sitting in the same spots.

Ultimately, the main motivation behind these systems is the revenue. If safety was the principle concern, the same governments that support photo radar would invest more into training, stricter road tests and better road maintenance.

After all, if we were to accept the idea of photo radar, the next logical step would be to mandate electronic monitoring devices for cars and fining them heavily for the slightest mistake.

They wouldn’t require them for trucks, would they? n

– Dave Holleman is an over-the-road trucker and monthly contributor to Truck News.

Truck News

Truck News

Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry.
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