Real enforcement means we need to ticket cars, never mind the drivers

We have a problem in Ontario. We have some very sensible laws that regulate traffic to make it safe. Our sensible laws include things like "obey traffic signs". We can agree that obeying signs is a good idea, right?

The problem we have in Ontario is that these signs are impossible to enforce. For police to issue a ticket they have to see the infraction happen, they have to pull the car over and issue a ticket to the driver of the vehicle.

No amount of other evidence matters. The police officer who attended a traffic incident at my child's school today told me flat out [paraphrased]: "if we don't see it happen we can't issue a ticket". The officer said it's not a discretion thing; it's not a City of Ottawa thing; it's not a Chief of Police thing; it's an Ontario law thing.

So, Ontario law need to change.

Our MPPs need to let police review evidence and issue tickets directly to a registered vehicle owner for ignoring signs. It isn't a big leap. Ontario already allows police to lay fines for passing a school bus by fining the owner directly.

Sure, if police are on scene they will ticket the driver which has the added bonus of demerits going on their license. I'm all for demerit points.

But I am completely against the idea that police are handcuffed (zing!) if they aren't present. Math says we can't afford to put police everywhere. Even when we do have them out enforcing traffic it is costly to write the tickets one-by-one, driver-by-driver. It would be much more efficient to have them sit back and witness traffic violations, then send tickets in the mail.

Even better if we can have "special constables" do it.

More tickets going out the door means more people getting clued into how dangerous their behaviour is. More tickets will eventually mean more compliance.

I've suggested this before and people inevitably comment that ticketing the car means there are no demerit points applied, so why bother? Here's why should bother. I'll use a not-so-hypothetical idiot teenager named Kevin as an example:

  • Kevin borrows his parents' vehicle.
  • Kevin speeds on several roads on a Friday evening.
  • Kevin ignores a no-turn sign on the same evening.
  • Kevin thinks it was a grand old time, w00t.
  • Kevin arrives home from school on Wednesday to discover his dad has received $900 in fines in the mail.
  • Kevin never breaks another traffic rule again because either he isn't driving or he realizes he only gets one last chance.
  • Most importantly, all of Kevin's friends don't ever even break a traffic law once because holy shit did you see what happened to Kevin?

Do you think the lack of idiot-teenager named Kevin not getting demerit points is really going to matter? Trust me, parents don't wait for seven demerit points to revoke car privileges.

Under our current system a not-so-hypothetical idiot teenageer named Kevin got away with a ton of stuff. 

A not-so-hypothetical idiot teenager named Kevin lucked out and nothing bad ever happened.

Very real, grown up, parenting Kevin is sick and tired of drivers ignoring the no-turn signs at his kid's school every day of the week. Tickets are never laid. Everyone ignores rules constantly because the risk of getting caught is essentially zero. So everyone does it and that builds up to mean that everyone is allowed.

Eventually a child will die and we'll all clasp our hands together and think "oh, what a tragedy." 

The tragedy is we can do something today to make a difference, but we won't, because the people we've elected, who pass the laws, who are preventing police from laying enough tickets to make a difference, won't ever do anything about it.

In other words, we, collectively, in Ontario, just don't give a fuck. We are content to let people die so we don't have to obey the rules we've all agreed are a good idea, hypothetically (when applied to others).

Here's a photo of a dog owned by a man who failed to obey a no-turn sign today. The dog's owner won't be getting a ticket.

Luckily he didn't hurt a child. But someday he, or someone just like him, will.

That child may have a dog at home. I bet the poor dog will be confused for a long time why its favourite little person has never come back. Little people give the best dog hugs.