“Haven’t you got anything better to do?” This was a question that I was asked often during my service as a constable in traffic law enforcement.
I’m sure some of the drivers were just trying to needle me a bit in return for the ticket but most of them appeared to feel that sliding through a stop sign or doing a few kilometres per hour over the speed limit was trivial and should be ignored.
When you disobey the traffic rules over and over again and nothing bad happens it is easy to believe that there is no risk in those actions. If there is no risk then it is acceptable behaviour and may be considered normal. Some drivers leave it at that and some push their boundaries until they have pushed too far. The result in both cases is an increased risk of collision.
Spending any amount of time in traffic law enforcement soon teaches you that what drivers often consider to be a trivial violation will eventually result in some horrendous consequences. You experience this directly with every serious collision that you are called on to investigate. There is no doubt in my mind that this experience caused me to write a ticket when the driver was expecting a warning.
My job was to change the behaviour of the motoring public to conform to the traffic rules. I used many tools to attempt this including a website, newspaper articles, radio spots, group talks and yes, warnings and tickets.
After this if you still chose to go your own way then my response to this query should be “No, I’ve already tried by other means and haven’t gotten through to you. Sign here please.”
Tim Schewe is a retired RCMP constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. His column appears Thursdays.