On the road, all eyes can be on you
By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, March 3 2017
Who is watching us drive? The answer is simple: Almost everyone.
We have all lost our relative driving anonymity due to the observations of others and, more importantly, the technological revolution that is upon us.
A person sitting in the front passenger seat can be an asset.
An additional set of eyes is an advantage for new drivers, in particular. Conversely, the addition of passengers in the back seat of a vehicle being driven by a novice driver increases the likelihood of a crash by up to four times.
This is why the “N”-classified drivers in B.C. are restricted to only one non-family member in the vehicle at all times.
On most drives in unfamiliar areas, it was always good to have a navigator.
Lately, the GPS has replaced the human navigator.
It seems as though there are cameras everywhere.
Intersection cameras are an obvious way to record infractions and crashes.
In addition, there are all sorts of security cameras strategically placed to catch unwanted behaviour.
Dash cams are a way of life in most European countries.
They preserve a record for future potential legal proceedings.
In fact, they are responsible for a significant reduction in court time, because of the indisputable proof of illegal or dangerous driving.
There are also a number of in-vehicle monitors that are permitted as evidence for the decisions rendered in court cases.
The best deterrent to poor driving behaviour is the police officer on patrol.
There are all sorts of times when a driver will be on the lookout for a police cruiser, before making an illegal manoeuvre.
This behaviour is entertaining, especially to off-duty police personnel.
At any given moment, there are as many police not working as are actually working.
They are in their own vehicles going about everyday activities.
They can easily take action if necessary.
In fact, they are never really off duty.
Here is a personal example of the public’s observations.
My small SUV was stolen a couple of years ago. It was unique.
It was personalized by a ribbon of Wallace tartan on the upper part of each door.
This newspaper carried the story of the theft, complete with a picture.
A sharp-eyed teen spotted the vehicle and made a quick call to police.
The vehicle was recovered shortly afterward, relatively intact.
(Yes, the teen gets free lessons when the time comes.)
The most blatant example of the intended identification of a vehicle, given to a new driver, was the “Pink Cadillac” caper.
Several years ago, prior to the technological revolution, a concerned dad wanted to keep track of his son, a novice teen driver.
To that end, he bought him a pink Cadillac station wagon.
It had formerly been used by a funeral home. His thinking was suspect, but nonetheless well intended.
The car got very poor mileage; thus, it was very expensive to operate.
The teen could not afford to go very far.
The pink colour was very distinctive and easy to track.
In fact, the father would get regular reports as to his son’s whereabouts, from friends and family alike.
During the day, the Cadillac was used to deliver goods from the dad’s retail outlet.
On weekends and in the evenings, the son drove it as a personal vehicle.
It was a very large vehicle and the dad thought it would provide the best protection in a crash.
The “who’s watching” plan worked. Dad usually knew the movements of his son by various unsolicited reports.
Nowadays there are gadgets that provide an on-board record, in real time, of the various functions of the vehicle.
It lends credence to the thought that everyone is watching.