by Cedric Hughes, Barrister & Solicitor with weekly contributions from Leslie McGuffin, LL.B.

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Mandatory Ignition Interlock Program

High-tech driver behaviour control devices range from breathalyzers to radar guns and speed and red light cameras. We have become accustomed to such devices. They do not feel sci-fi futuristic anymore or overly intrusive of our civil liberties. They seem to offer relatively low cost/high benefit—public safety—fixes. Our faith in their efficacy and operational efficiency is more surprised than fundamentally challenged by technical failing, administrative misuse or some unexpected, disenabling ‘glitch’.

Situational Awareness

In an article about her recent fall down a flight of stairs, Susan Schwartz (“Stumbling into realizing that living in the moment might help”, Vancouver Sun, January 22nd) concluded that the fall was a “symptom of my generally lackadaisical approach to life,” that she had been ‘distracted’ at the time, indeed, come to think of it she was “almost always distracted, … almost always somewhere else.”

Are Two Hour Traffic Jams Normal?

The temporary closure of the Patullo Bridge that began on January 18th reminds Lower Mainlanders of the extent to which flowing traffic almost everywhere is linked to flowing bridge traffic. Another dramatic reminder occurred the week prior when a reportedly minor ‘fender bender’ on the Lions Gate Bridge snarled Vancouver traffic for close to two hours in the peak of the Friday afternoon rush hour. This occurred shortly after 4 pm at mid-span in the southbound lane. Crashes like this are so common that the Lions Gate Bridge regularly makes the top 10 list of BC crash sites.

Why Do We Keep Counting Accidental Deaths?

The New Year resets the fatality-count ticker around the globe. Headlines report the civilians and soldiers killed in armed conflicts. In British Columbia, skiers and snowmobilers killed in avalanches and other misadventures are big stories. And if they have not done so already, most major newspaper dailies and community newspapers around the world will also be marking, albeit with much less fanfare, their ‘first traffic fatality.’

Snow is a Gamechanger

The word ‘gamechanger’ is on the Lake Superior State University 2009 Banished Words List as a cliché that, “gets overused in the news media, political arenas and in business." (Go to www.lssu.edu/banished/ for the ‘34th annual’ complete list.) Another problem is its common misuse in reference to an “event”. Properly used a gamechanger is a person with the ability to change the game by being a good improviser who focuses not on outcomes but on process.

Despite this analysis, however, it remains apt for describing the effects of snow (the event) on driving in the Lower Mainland and the appropriate response by Lower Mainland drivers. Simply put, snow is a gamechanger for driving and drivers need to become gamechangers on the road.

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