On my way up to Whistler for the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention last week, I passed a tow truck heading down to Vancouver. It was carrying what looked like an orange Lamborghini Aventador with bad front-end damage.
This is one of your rich-kid supercars, worth somewhere in the high six figures if you have to ask. You may have heard about the 22-year-old Ferrari driver clocked at 210 km/h on the Lion’s Gate Bridge last year, or the kid who had his McLaren sports car impounded for a week, ’N’ sticker and all, after screaming through a B.C. school zone this past April.
At the annual gathering of provincial and local politicians, Lions Bay Mayor Karl Buhr got strong support for a motion calling for “point to point” speed enforcement cameras on the Sea to Sky Highway, as well as the Coquihalla and the Malahat Drive on Vancouver Island.
Buhr said the Sea to Sky sees three times the fatalities and twice the property damage of the average B.C. highway, despite the costly rebuild that preceded the 2010 Olympics. He has been pleading for more speed enforcement for years. At the convention, he met with Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, describing him as “quite receptive” to the idea of this pilot project to deter the worst kind of speeding.
I don’t doubt that he is. Farnworth is about to activate the 140 intersection cameras around the province to issue speeding tickets, in addition to their original purpose, mailing out pictures and fines for those who run red lights.
“It’s not photo radar!” Farnworth growls through clenched teeth if you use the term that became notorious during the last B.C. NDP government.
Last time I checked, the ministry was crunching data to decide what the threshold for an intersection speeding ticket should be. I was told that even at 30 km/h over the limit, there would be plenty of B.C. drivers getting a nasty surprise in the mail. If it’s “excessive speeding,” more than 40 km/h over the limit, the fine is $368 plus three demerit points.
Automated speed cameras snap your licence plate as you enter a high-risk section of highway, snap it again as you leave, and calculate your average speed. If it’s above the threshold, a ticket is automatically mailed to the registered owner with time-stamped images, evidence that can’t be argued away.
Opponents point out that the problem with point-to-point is the same as the notorious photo radar vans that used to lurk along roadsides. It penalizes the vehicle owner, who may not have been driving.
I was not a fan of the old photo radar. The one ticket I got was on a deserted back road, on a Sunday afternoon, and I was 15 km/h over the limit. A nice revenue stream for the province, and a waste of police resources.
This is different, and I’m persuaded to agree with it. Once you get past the partisan grandstanding of Attorney General David Eby, you see that the red ink at ICBC is due to two things: lawyers exploiting minor injuries, and a soaring accident rate on B.C. roads despite vehicles and highways that get safer every year.
Eby did deal with the lawyers, capping “pain and suffering” claims and giving priority back to severely injured and disabled people. Now he and Farnworth have to deal with the distracted, the stoned and the speeders.
Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org