One of the most common responses that I received having stopped a driver for a traffic violation was a rationalization or justification for the behaviour I observed.
The driver clearly knew that what they were doing was against the traffic laws but in their minds they were still being safe.
Exceeding the speed limit, slowing down for stop signs, or even driving on the wrong side of the road could be excused because, “No one else was around.”
If that was the case, where did I and my fully marked police vehicle materialize from?
Brake is a road safety charity in the U.K. They partnered with an insurance company and surveyed 1,000 drivers about their own driving and their perception of other drivers.
Among their findings are 63 per cent of young drivers feel that it is more dangerous than safe to drive, 46 per cent of men break the rules, but only when they can do it safely and that 99 per cent think that they are at least as safe as the average driver.
I suspect that if this survey was conducted here in British Columbia the results would be much the same. Most of us think that we are better than the average driver, something that cannot be true.
This perception of our own capabilities can lead to poor decision making which in the context of driving may mean injury and death. That costs us all when we pay our taxes and renew the insurance for our vehicles.
Will the B.C. government take this inflated perception of capability into consideration when they review the public input of the speed limit survey planned for next month?
I hope so because my experience has shown me that some drivers have neither the knowledge nor the forethought to contribute in a truly useful way.
Driver education should be a driving career long effort, not one that ends when we first receive our full licence.
For more information on this topic, visit www.drivesmartbc.ca. Questions or comments are welcome by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tim Schewe is a retired RCMP constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. His column appears Thursdays.