We Teach Driving Like Your Life Depends On It

Picking police priorities for enforcement

By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, August 31st 2018

A sign warns drivers of the red-light camera at Hillside Avenue and Shelbourne Street, one of the most dangerous intersections on the Island. Steve Wallace asks: Do we need more cameras?



Let us suppose that you have become the police representative deciding the traffic enforcement priorities for the coming calendar year.
Which would be the logical primaryconcerns to be addressed?

Crashes involving loss of life would obviously be at the top of your agenda.
The most feared fatal crashes are the high-speed highway crashes, followed closely by intersection crashes.
Given the severity of the above two traffic realities, it would seem reasonable to address them as priority one and two.
The use of radar enforcement makes good sense, particularly as it pertains to the prevention of highway crashes.

Where would you place this type of equipment?
It would be a good idea to have enforcement at locations where previous fatal crashes have happened.
After all, history does repeat.

Is it more important to have speed enforcement on two-way one-direction highways, where passing is treacherous, or on multiple lane configurations?
The statistics on the location of fatal and serious injury impacts would likely be your guide.
Intersection crashes can be deadly occurrences.

The T-bone or side impact is the most feared by motorists and their passengers.
Intersection crashes have a seemingly strange statistical anomaly.
The greater the traffic control devices, the greater the crash potential.

More people die in crashes at highly regulated intersections than at less regulated ones.

The left turn in front of oncoming traffic is the most fatal type intersection crash.
Would you mandate an advance left turn at every intersection?
Would you equip every intersection with a fatal crash history with photo radar or red-light cameras?
Their presence at these intersections would be valuable.

Would this enforcement reduce the number of crashes?

Would you recommend the construction of more roundabouts and traffic circles?
These types of intersection replacements have shown to reduce the crash rate by an average of 50 per cent.
Is it your place to make such a recommendation?

Which methods of enforcement would you use to protect pedestrians and cyclists?

Is the police priority policy as simple as calculating the greatest cause of death on the roads and acting accordingly?
Should the number of fatal pedestrian and cyclist incidents be your guide?

The police are faced with these kinds of decisions on a regular basis, not just during an annual review.
Should the paltry fine of about $30 for not wearing a bicycle helmet be issued?
Does the number of cyclists being killed each year in crashes have any bearing on your enforcement strategy?
Do you apply the same enforcement zeal to a cyclist running a red light, as a driver of a motor vehicle doing the same?
Is the true penalty for a bike rider not necessarily the fine imposed, but the strong likelihood of serious injury or worse?

Should pedestrians be subjected to the same fines as drivers?
When they walk or run on the Don’t Walk signal, should the police enforce such infractions?
Are these petty indiscretions compared with drunk driving or distracted driving?
Distracted driving has eclipsed drunk driving as the leading cause of death in a motor vehicle in North America.

Surely, one would have to address this situation as part of any priority-based traffic enforcement.
Where would you place these two paramount priorities?
Now add into the mix the additional enforcement needed to satisfy the upcoming cannabis legalization.

Traffic crashes are the leading cause of “accidental” death in our country.
They outnumber all other causes of accidental deaths combined.

The police are charged with the responsibility for allocating enforcement resources necessary to reduce these deaths.






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