BEHIND THE WHEEL: Authorities sending out wrong message

A serious single vehicle collision occurred in the Shawnigan Lake Area on Sept. 1.

Four 19-year-olds were hurt, two critically, after the driver spilled an iced cappuccino on herself and subsequently lost control of her vehicle. She struck the right curb, overcorrected and crossed the highway, rolling down an embankment and coming to rest against some trees.

Thankfully there was no traffic coming in the other direction or any other road user present to collide with.

A sergeant from the Shawnigan Lake Detachment was quoted in a Victoria newspaper article as saying “It’s unlikely charges will be laid. It was just an unfortunate incident that occurred. Everyone drinks coffee in their car.”

I’m used to the violator using what I like to call the Lemming Defence: “Everyone else does it!” but this has no place being parroted by the police when wrapping up a collision investigation. There is no difference between this and losing control because of other forms of distracted driving.

Yes, I feel sorry for the driver and her passengers, but I also feel that in this case if there is sufficient evidence for charges they should be issued.

Our safety as a road user depends on everyone doing the right thing, and that is concentrating on the task of driving properly. This driver took a small liberty that ended up injuring three other innocent road users and had the potential of causing much worse.

“Everyone drinks coffee in their car” is not a justification for doing it, nor is it a justification for not taking action if action is due.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. To comment or learn more, please visit


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