We bring you two stories this week that look frankly bizarre when read side by side. On March 2, a Vancouver driver ran down a senior in a crosswalk in Lower Lonsdale and was ticketed $165 for failing to yield to a pedestrian. On Tuesday, our two North Shore police forces ticketed 74 drivers $368 each for distracted driving.
Why do we punish the potential harm of distracted driving more harshly than the actual harm caused by striking a person in a crosswalk? We aren’t defending distracted driving – it’s a selfish and deadly habit we need expunged from our culture. Perhaps the other fines aren’t high enough.
But enforcement is the last line of defence. Better would be to prevent dangerous driving from happening in the first place. We can achieve that through education but that takes time and some folks you just can’t reach. On Wednesday, West Van police dinged one driver for using his phone twice in 13 minutes – a new local record.
The best options are the ones that physically prevent bad behaviour. ICBC is currently experimenting with technology that disables phones in moving vehicles. If a driver claims they cannot see a pedestrian in the crosswalk in time to stop, they are either driving too fast or the crosswalk is not well lit. Those are both problems a municipality can address through street design and better infrastructure.
And while dark clothing and bad weather may exacerbate the problem, the responsibility remains with the person piloting the automobile. That’s the very first lesson they teach you in driver’s ed. If you didn’t pay attention, you should be made to pay a very steep fine.
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