Dangerous drivers put us all in jeopardy

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Recently, driving on Kenmount Road, I noticed a vehicle following much too closely. In the mirror, I could see the driver holding a device with one hand and gesticulating with the other, the way people sometimes do when on the phone.

I assumed the driver’s knees were griping the steering wheel. I knew that if I had to stop, maybe for lights, there would be a chance of a rear-ender. Thoughts of damage, insurance, whiplash, visits to the ER (or worse), loss of car, extended physio treatment and general disruption crossed my mind. I was afraid, very afraid.

 Much has appeared in the press lately about drunk-driving, driving while texting/phoning, driving without insurance, driving at excessive speed, and generally not paying attention to the safety of others on the road.

It appears that educational campaigns to limit these dangerous activities have had very limited effect. For example, it was hoped that driving under the influence (of alcohol, particularly) would become socially unacceptable and lead to a decrease.

This has not happened. Appeals to reason have obviously failed. The lives of others are still jeopardized by behaviour that priorizes drink or text or speed. What should be done? There are deterrents provided by the justice system, but clearly these are insufficient and should be made more robust.

The media reports that “the vehicle was impounded” although I’m not sure what this means, but what it should mean is “gone for ever,” as in crushed and sent for scrap.

I understand that every cellphone electronic transaction is recorded to the second. It may be possible to correlate the time of accident to use of the device, with the policy holder liable for a significant contribution towards third-party insurance payouts. It may not always be possible to use cellphone timing, but the chance may deter.

Fines should be attention-getting, say in the order of tens of thousands of dollars, with vigorous enforcement to ensure payment. Jail time should be such as to focus the mind of even the most uncaring or thoughtless motorist, say in

multiple years as Her Majesty’s guest in a federal institution. This will tax the already crowded justice system, but only initially until it sinks in that risking the lives of others through self-centred and antisocial behaviour has very serious consequences.

If this all seems just too draconian, remember that driving dangerously is a personal choice. If you don’t want to pay the fine or do the time, then don’t do the crime. Also think about victims and families, the awfulness of losing a loved one, or of seeing a life devastated by a vehicle accident caused by selfish behaviour.


Denis Drown

St. John’s

Geographic location: Kenmount Road

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Recent comments

  • rob doucette
    rob doucette
    September 29, 2013 - 09:50

    he same situation here in central, horrible drivers!, speeding, not stopping at STOP signs, following too close, driving/talking on cellphone(ironic, NL being the first province in Canada to ban cellphones while driving), passing on solid lines when passing lane 200 meters ahead(I guess everyone is a doctor or emergency personnel) and general bad driving manners. The problem being that the highways are not policed, the RCMP that are spread through out the island are just a "token" police presence. The number of police officers are not sufficient to combat this cancer on our highways. The solution is to form a municipal highway traffic policing organization.