Home » Articles

Speeding & Impoundment: The 40km/h Solution

Submitted by on Tuesday, 26 October 201052 Comments

BC’s changes to the Motor Vehicle Act aim to get tough on speeders through the mandatory impoundment of vehicles exceeding the posted limit by 40 km/h. The question is, will the new laws have the desired effect on riders?

Rules Easily Broken

Riding through your favourite set of twisties on the notoriously low-speed limited Sunshine Coast? Well, if “Baldy’s” red and blues weren’t enough of a problem, as of September 20th, 2010 new provisions under Bill 14 in British Columbia’s Motor Vehicle Act have given the police and ICBC a sharper set of fangs. The changes are targeting “excessive” speeders with fines and impoundments, along with a legal structure that assumes guilt and is open for police abuse.

With the enactment of the new provisions drivers or riders of vehicles exceeding the posted speed limit by 40 km/h can expect to pay up to $737 for ticket while their vehicle is impounded for a mandatory seven days. As an additional blow towing and storage fees are due up front.

For most sport bikes on the market, an entertaining entry speed for a 50km/h marked corner sits at double the suggested. So getting into the joy of a turn puts you at 100 120, or 40km/h over the limit an 80 km/h maximum highway. Congratulations, your Sunday rip has made you an “excessive speeder”.

Subsequent to your offense, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia will charge an annual driver-risk premium of $320 for three years following the infraction, and drivers will receive a three-demerit points on their driving records.

Those are the penalties for a first offense, second and third offenses are more heavily penalized. Those caught speeding excessively a second time, and you face a 30 day vehicle impoundment and associated towing and storage fees, and an increased $370 annual driver-risk premium the next three years. For a third or more excessive-speeding offense within two years, drivers will suffer a 60-day vehicle impoundment, towing and storage fees, and a $430 ICBC annual premium for the next three years.

September 4th, 2010 the Vancouver Sun reported that B.C. Superintendent of Motor Vehicles Steve Martin gleefully stated, “You’re going to be stranded on the highway.”

Martin followed with an example of the effects of the changes to the Motor Vehicle Act, “If they’ve [the speeders] got their family in the car and they’re heading up to the Okanagan for a long weekend on the Coquihalla, they’re still going to lose their car.”

Martin seems immune to the safety concerns of stranding families or individuals on the roadside where threats include pedestrian strikes, weather and wildlife. Police however aren’t.

Commenting on harsher drunk driving and stunting laws that came into effect along with mandatory impoundment of excessive speeding vehicles, Vancouver Police Union president Tom Stamatakis is concerned, that officers are facing more pursuits and are wasting time waiting for tow trucks after vehicles are impounded, he says.
“Ultimately, from a front-line police officer’s perspective, we’re ending up not targeting the person that’s responsible for the very serious tragedies that we deal with on an ongoing basis,” said Stamatakis.

A Potential for Police Abuse of Riders

Another element Martin has emphasized is that the new anti-speeding measures are mandatory and not at the discretion of traffic-enforcement officers. That introduces a larger problem for motorcyclists in British Columbia, the potential for police abuse of the new laws.

Even Stamatakis acknowledges this potential in a Oct. 21st Vancouver Sun article, “Even if you support the change of regulations, I don’t think any of us support the fact that we’ve [Police] now become the judge and the jury. Our job is to enforce the law and another part of our criminal justice system should be dealing with the guilt or innocence thing and imposing what the penalties should be.” Stamatakis also makes it clears that the new laws were put in place without consulting the Vancouver Police Union.

With no onus on proving guilt the compulsory roadside impoundment of a speeders vehicle gives officers a new tool in penalizing riders without any oversight, checks and balances of due process. The concern in BC’s riding community is that officers looking for a way to penalize a rider for more trivial or personal reasons can rely on a “visual estimate” of a rider’s speed as reason enough to impound the motorcycle.

In a September 2, 2010 News Release from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solictor General – Michael de Jong, Solictor General overstated that, “Excessive speed is often a death sentence for everyone involved – the driver, their passengers and other innocent road-users,” said de Jong. “We want to save lives by going after the kind of driver who drives significantly and dangerously over the posted speed limit, and then get them off the road. By doing so, we hope to make our streets and highways safer for everyone.”

The statistics are tragic, but they may overestimate the problem.

Martin quoted that an average of 167 people are killed due to excessive speeds on B.C. roads annually, with May and September being the peak months. Assumedly this correlates with the first and last long weekends of the summer. Mind you, that number represents a decrease over 2005 statistics provided by the Ministry which attribute 176 fatalities to speed related crashes. The actual count may be lower, as the publicly accessible statistics state that, “Crashes may involve more than one contributing factor, which can lead to injuries and fatalities being counted in more than one category.”

For 2007 the statistics (the most recent available on ICBC’s website) saw speed attributed fatalities drop to 154, but also notes the same “double counting” where a collision attributed to “Excessive Speed” and “Alcohol” or “Driver Inattentive” would be counted in both categories.

With this statistical clumsiness of deaths attributed to other causes also being attributed to speeding the statistics become slippery and the number of related deaths inflated.

2009 Suzuki Gladius

Unfortunately, “Speed Kills” is a much more politically sexy mantra than “Inattention’s gonna get ya!” Not every driver or rider speeds, but at one point or another everyone is inattentive. That’s borne out by the statistics, with “Driver Inattentive (34.3%)” ranking the number one contributing factor in 2007’s injury causing collisions, which carry a greater social cost. For injuries speed ranked number three with a solid 19.9%.

Attacking speeding though is a politically savvy for a BC Liberal Government that gained power partially on the platform of removing photo radar. Photo-radar, many argued, assumed the guilt of the vehicle’s owner, despite the driver being at fault.

The cameras though may have been responsible for downward trend in fatalities that started four years before the Liberal rise to power. In 2001 “unsafe speed” attributed fatalities reached a low of 146, then jumping to 157 in 2002 when photo-radar was discontinued. Photo radar, however, wasn’t a tool open to abuse by law enforcement agencies, in short police couldn’t use the cameras to profile riders.

Circumventing the Charter of Rights

In a press release Martin openly admits that the Solicitor General’s and Public Safety Ministry modeled the revisions to the Motor Vehicle Act after similar measures in Ontario, which came into play in September of 2007.

“They [Ontario] introduced significant fines ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 and also vehicle impoundments, and what they have seen are better road-safety outcomes as a result. In terms of fatalities per hundred thousand, Ontario leads the country in results.”

What Martin fails to mention is that the province of Ontario is now appealing a court decision that found the province’s street-racing law is unconstitutional. The law exposes a speeder to a possible jail term, without any ability to defend against it in contravention of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. BC’s Bill-14 sidesteps the issue by not explicitly stating imprisonment in its terms.

A Questionable Basis for Law

An analysis of numbers involving “fatalities per hundred thousand” creates the problem of establishing statistical significance. Given 2007’s publicly available figures of the 3,852,365 licensed vehicles in BC and 154 fatalities there were 0.003997% deaths partially attributed to excessive speed in the vehicle population. Using Martin’s figure of 167 fatalities and the same population of licensed vehicles that percentage rises to 0.004335%. Calculate the standard deviation on the percentages of fatalities for licensed vehicles in BC from 1995 through to 2007 (.000395%), and you require a change greater than 0.00079% to be statistically significant. That’s using the common practice of assuming statistical significance as being two standard deviations from the mean. With a difference of 0.000338% the figure Martin is using isn’t statistical significant.

Brush off a bit of university linear regression analysis and the total number of collisions over time is negatively related to fatalities attributed to speed (-0.0311).

That brings into question the very the “Speed Kills” dogma, that underpins the new law. As does fatality statistics on the Autobahn, where in 2005 the German Federal Interior Ministry (Bundesministerium des Innern) found that Autobahn sections with unrestricted speed have the same crash record as sections with speed limits.

This is not to say that speeding is acceptable. But these figures, indicate BC has enacting laws that undermine the fundamentals of Canada’s legal system and handed over powers open to police abuse based on weak, incorrect, or politically motivated reasoning.

As important, confounds abound as aging vehicles leave the road, driver and rider assists such as traction control and ABS becoming the norm and safety technologies continue to improve, all factors to be considered by the public in the future when the BC government will shows us these laws are worth the price.

The Effect on Riders

Confronted with a fine for excessive speeding, mandatory impoundment their motorcycle and roadside assumption of a rider’s guilt, how will motorcyclists respond?

“I ran,” says a local BC rider and member of the community who’s advocated safety measures including a graduated licensing system. This is mere days after the new law came into effect.

“I was riding up the Sea to Sky, and there was a roadblock just south of Squamish. There were two sportbikes that had been well in front of me earlier were pulled over. There was another bike, and two cars also. The riders were sitting on the roadside on hands behind them, the tow trucks were there along with the police.”

“I never saw a cop or helicopter on my way up, and traffic was passing me at 120 on the straights.”

“I turned tail and ran. I’m guilty by default anyways. There’s too much on the line. I’m not going to just hand over my bike and potentially my livelihood without a fight.” In truth our rider may have a point, the benefits of running and escaping, may outweigh the risks and inevitability of an impoundment.

Our rider, who for obvious reasons would prefer to remain anonymous, may be correct in expecting prejudiced treatment from the police. While one roadblock is to small a sample to draw a statistical conclusion from, it can be an indicator. Using the 2007 numbers again, motorcycles represent 98,639 of the 3,852,365 licensed vehicles on the road, or 2.56%. Remember, sportbikes comprise a fraction of that, but for the three sport bikes pulled over; there should be roughly 97 other vehicles.

While online forums are infamous for bravado and posturing, a recent survey on BCSportbikes.com, indicates that a lot of sport bike riders are of a similar frame of mind. Eighty-one percent of the respondents indicated they believed, “More issues will arise due to people trying to evade the police.”

In a heavy handed approach to trying to stop speeding and assuming guilt rather than innocence British Columbia’s campaign against speeding may have worsened the situation as riders and drivers try to evade enforcement. Unfortunately, only the statistics will tell and even then the results might not be obvious.

Send to Kindle

52 Comments »

  • katui said:

    Great article on a valid and pressing issue. Thank You for taking the time to write it.

  • Neil Johnston (author) said:

    Thanks for taking the time to read it. By web standards it’s a massive beast.
    I think we’ve yet to see the real fallout from this issue. The potential for police abuse is massive.

  • katui said:

    Thanks for taking the time to read it.By web standards it’s a massive beast.
    I think we’ve yet to see the real fallout from this issue.The potential for police abuse is massive.

    My pleasure and agreed whole heartedly.

  • Rob Harris said:

    Neil, well done. I did a similar piece to this when Quebec hiked the insurance rates for sportbikes without valid arguments and it was a sonofabitch to do all the research and get all the info out there.

    These things are really important to do and get the facts out there to as many people as possible. Good research, well presented and good for you for taking it on.

    Cheers, Rob

  • Anthony said:

    I’m about ready to give-up any riding north of the Rio-Grande.

  • Bill said:

    Well written Neil. I think inattentiveness and bad driving skills are a much bigger problem in BC. These new laws give the Police too much power. Anyone want to buy an 04 GSXR1000?

  • Dustin said:

    For most sport bikes on the market, an entertaining entry speed for a 50km/h marked corner sits at double the suggested. So getting some joy out of a turn puts you at 100, or 40km/h over the limit an 80 km/h maximum highway. Congratulations, your casual Sunday ride has made you an “excessive speeder”.

    80+40 is 120, not 100.

    Please don’t use the BC Sportbikes as a source of information in your articles. That place is so far away from the concept of reality and information it may as well be a bowl of rice pudding.

    Nice article!

  • katui said:

    80+40 is 120, not 100.Please don’t use the BC Sportbikes as a source of information in your articles. That place is so far away from the concept of reality and information it may as well be a bowl of rice pudding.Nice article!

    Your misreading what he said. 50*2=100 and 40*2=80, hes not saying 80+40=100.

  • Dustin said:

    Your misreading what he said. 50*2=100 and 40*2=80, hes not saying 80+40=100.

    But how does going 100km/h on an 80km/h highway = excessive speed? Suggested speed signs are not enforceable in that capacity, so even if you were doing 118km/h in a 50km/h suggested corner (on an 80km/h highway), you would still be under excessive.

  • A Reader said:

    Your misreading what he said. 50*2=100 and 40*2=80, hes not saying 80+40=100.

    You’re from BCSB, aren’t you…..

  • taylor192 said:

    Regarding the section: “A Questionable Basis for Law”

    Here are facts from the similar Ontario law you can use as “A Proven Basis for Law”: http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/about/quickfacts.shtml

    I tried to compile a list of all speed related fatalities in Ontario over a decade to do the same STD test. Here’s what I have found:
    2004: 345
    2005: 366
    2006: 350
    2007: 341
    2008: 29% less than 2007
    2009: 5.5% less than 2008

    The STD for 2004-2007 was ~20 fatalities. The decrease of 29% represents ~100 fatalities. This proves the basis for the law.

    Fortunately we have statistics to tell and the results are obvious.

  • Neil Johnston (author) said:

    It was a typo, and has been corrected.

  • Neil Johnston (author) said:

    The BCSB Poll was simply used as anything beyond a publicly accessible indicator of rider attitude as such I think it’s valid. As a source it did carry a suitable disclaimer of, “While online forums are infamous for bravado and posturing…”

    Thanks for catching the lack of clarity on the cornering commentary, it’s been corrected.

  • Neil Johnston (author) said:

    To be honest, laws like these are why we’ve been shifting our emphasis to adventure and off-road riding. Near impossible to test a bike on the road without feeling like a target.

  • Kim said:

    I just purchased a new bike a few months ago. I am now regretting the purchase.

    I may stop riding altogether, not because of the + 40kph law but strictly due to the fact that police are judge jury and executioner. We are at the mercy of the officer. This bothers me most.

    This law was passed prematurely and the police should have the equipment to provide you with a time and speed printed ticket from the speed trap device. This law is not fair. It caters to abuse and the whole thing makes me sick.

    It takes away from something that I do to relieve stress. I love motorcycling but if I can’t do relaxed then forget it. The motorcycle industry in Canada is already suffering. This is a bullet shot point blank in it’s back. The idiots that passed this need to be relieved of their duty.

  • katui said:

    A Proven Basis for Law”: http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/about/quickfacts.shtml

    Your misreading what he said. 50*2=100 and 40*2=80, hes not saying 80+40=100.

    My bad, I toke “50 km/h Marked Corner” as saying the speed limit on that corner is 50 km/h likely with an even lower Suggested speed rather then what was intended, where the suggested was 50 and the limit 80.

  • Robin said:

    Here’s another part of the “Speed kills” campaign that bothers me.

    If you have an intersection where a driver ignores a red light while driving 60 km/h in a 50 km/h zone, causing a severe accident resulting in death. The judgement isn’t that the driver ignored the red light, the judgement would be that the driver was speeding. There are many cases where the police will blame speeding as the cause rather than the stupidity of the driver only because the speeding ruling is tougher to argue against.

  • shawn said:

    when will the driving exams become harder and have drivers show real skill on the road?
    when will driver education improve and become a world leading icon?
    we’ve all seen the canada’s worst drivers show… how the hell are we allowing those people to partake on our roads?
    when will the speed limits be raised to reflect the improvements in technology?
    when will officers start ticketing people who hold up traffic in the left lane since were not allowed to pass on the right unless they are turning left?

    I’m in favor of this law when they raise the limits on the highways and other areas.
    60km/h on the mary hill bypass? 50 zones on the golden ears bridge?
    This is not how I wanted my tax dollars spent.

  • Fred said:

    I’m an avid motorcycle rider, and I ride a sportbike.

    If there should have been 97 cars pulled over at that roadblock for every 3 sportbikes, tell me, what kind of personality describes the person that buys a sportbike? Someone that likes what sportbikes can do, that’s who.

    The reason sportbikes are overrepresented in excessive speed fines and stops are obvious. On a sunny Sunday, what percentage of sportbikes on the Sea to Sky highway are NOT travelling at 40kmh over the speed limit?

    face it sportbikes, we are our own worst enemy, if you don;t know it, then you are in denial about it. Want to go fast? Get to a track day. The rest of the time? Get a grip.

  • Kim said:

    it’s not even about going fast it’s about being targeted unfairly.
    sure there’s some major idiots riding sportbikes and harleys.

    I for one pick my spots.

    but here’s a scenario for you. A cop catches you 10kph over..
    and because he can; he writes you up as 42kph over. the law allows him to just “eyeball it”.

    what are you going to do? go to the track?

    this law is total b.s and you can’t fight it.

  • Kim said:

    here’s the quote from the article….
    “With no onus on proving guilt the compulsory roadside impoundment of a speeders vehicle gives officers a new tool in penalizing riders without any oversight, checks and balances of due process. The concern in BC’s riding community is that officers looking for a way to penalize a rider for more trivial or personal reasons can rely on a “visual estimate” of a rider’s speed as reason enough to impound the motorcycle.”

  • Knolf said:

    Your article, and all these comments, are proof that this new law works.

    When there was only the risk of a fine, nobody talked about excessive speeding. Now, it gets more attention than the HST. Now, suddenly, certain people are devoting their time and energy to becoming armchair statisticians, journalists, and constitutional lawyers. Why? Because now those “certain people” actually have something to lose when they break the law.

    Where have you been for the last 15 years when drunk drivers who drove while prohibited were getting their cars impounded under all the same rules that excessive speeders are now? Police have had the same powers for that entire time – where has your outrage been?

    Oh, that’s right – you weren’t at risk. Impoundments were things that happened to other people, not you.

    Laws only work when they have teeth. Fines clearly have never had teeth. But this new law does. If you’re looking for proof, look no further than this article and its comments.

    Have a nice life.

    PS Oh, and by the way impoundments have been around Canada for decades. If they were unconstitutional, don’t you think they’d been struck down by now?

  • taylor192 said:

    Knolf, you must not be on BCSB. Thanks for the information this article chose not to publish.

    The section of the article “Circumventing the Charter of Rights” mentions the BC law avoids the pitfalls of the Ontario law and does not contradict or circumvent the Charter of Rights. One must wonder why Neil chose such a blasphemously incorrect title to the section.

    Kim, the article by the Police Union President is here: http://www.theprovince.com/news/Police+union+says+tough+drunk+driving+laws+targeting+wrong+drinkers/3702484/story.html

    Some quotes:

    – “There’s a significant fine attached for both speeding and lower blood-alcohol limits,” Stamatakis said. “Is that revenue going to be poured back into public safety, or going to end up in general revenue?

    – “My view would be if we’re going to create these regulations that have a considerable impact on police capacity, then the revenues should come back to policing.”

    – “When you institute these kind of changes, there may well be consequences that were not what was intended, in terms of the use of scarce police resources,” he said.

    These quotes are from the VPD UNION not the VPD CHIEF. The article represents the best interests of the UNION, not of the safety of the public. The union mentions revenue collection and scare tactics of more policing required despite the RCMP stating they haven’t experienced any problems with the new laws. This is merely an attempt to justify future budget and staff increases. I find it despicable that the VPD union did not mention the proven effectiveness of similar laws in other provinces – showing they are less concerned about the safety of the public than getting paid. Despicable.

  • Redv said:

    …Where have you been for the last 15 years when drunk drivers who drove while prohibited were getting their cars impounded under all the same rules that excessive speeders are now?Police have had the same powers for that entire time – where has your outrage been?Oh, that’s right – you weren’t at risk….

    What an absolutely dumb comparision. A drunk driving conviction is a criminal offense, and is accpted by everyone that drunk people cannot drive safely. Therefore pulling a drunks vehicle off the road so they don’t have access to the vehicle makes sense. However speeding past some arbtrirarily set limit that is not based on any safety information, the capability of the drive, or road conditions is just an administrative punishment, which most people rightly viewed as a tax. Now you make it into a crime.

  • Kim said:

    @ Knolf

    It’s getting attention because its unfair.
    Nobody will argue in favor for a drunk and there’s breathalyzers to prove people are drunk!
    maybe even a readout? I don’t know it’s never affected me.

    So now again I ask… where’s the proof that you were speeding? the cops word is that good enough for you?

    Have you driven anywhere lately? 90% of the people on highway #1 are 20-25 kph over the speed limit. but nobody’s pulling them all over. why not?
    because it’s ridiculous that’s why. they can’t pull over everyone and it’s the general consensus that its safe.

    Are 90% of them drunk? nope. That’s also ridiculous.
    That .05 one drink law targets the wrong people too.
    The real drunks will still do it. but on a Friday night can 90% of the people be out for dinner and a movie- enjoy a glass of wine or a beer without being impounded? no they can’t!
    why? because its a b.s law and it’s ridiculous!!!!

    I hope you get nailed. Have a glass of wine with your dinner be 5kph over and then have some trigger happy cop dictate that you were 41kph over. Then get your sorry ass impounded on the way to your movie. Maybe that will wake you up to your nice life. Then when you need take your kid to his soccer practice you can take the bus… you know because you’re a criminal and all.

    sheesh.

    I should mention “great article” the author. Thank you.

  • taylor192 said:

    What an absolutely dumb comparision. A drunk driving conviction is a criminal offense, and is accpted by everyone that drunk people cannot drive safely. Therefore pulling a drunks vehicle off the road so they don’t have access to the vehicle makes sense. However speeding past some arbtrirarily set limit that is not based on any safety information, the capability of the drive, or road conditions is just an administrative punishment, which most people rightly viewed as a tax. Now you make it into a crime.

    Speed limits are not arbitrary. They are set using established safety guidelines. While your vehicle, driving experience, and weather conditions may allow for speeds doubling the limit – the traffic and roadways do not. This was evident this summer as we lost some riders on unforgiving sections of the road. Please take it to the track, it is more forgiving.

    I will agree with you that there are sections of road that the limit could be higher. Yet please consider 2.2M of the 4.5M BCers live in the GVA, and that ~3.5M BCers live in built up urban areas. Speed limits in these built up urban areas will never be increased, cause even as vehicles become safer, traffic becomes worse. Thus we are limited to increasing the speeds on rural roads that ~3.5M BCers, or ~80%, do not travel regularly. I am sorry you are going to have a hard time finding the political clout to fight that battle.

    The new laws benefit the ~3.5M BCers that live in urban areas. Accordingly most BCers have not taken issue with the new laws. Only a small select group has. They will not win this battle like they did not win in Ontario, despite the Ontario laws being far more punishing, poorly worded, and open to constitutional and legal challenges.

  • taylor192 said:

    Kim,

    An officer would be severely disciplined for the actions you claim. Some officers on the GVA vehicle forums have expressed this in regards to complaints just like yours. Officers are not interested in sacrificing their careers to punish you.

    Might an officer visually estimate you’re 45 over when you’re only 35 over? Perhaps, yet if you were going 35 over you already know you’re pushing your luck and are just looking for an excuse.

    Most Canadian officers allow for 10-20 kmph over the limit. Why? I don’t know, maybe we’re reasonable nice Canadians :). Consider some US states that have 75 mph (120 kmph) limits, yet they are very strictly enforced. Drivers stay under the limit not to risk a ticket. So which would you rather? higher limits and strict enforcement? or current limits and more reasonable enforcement? I’d rather the later, and a big thanks to the officers who were reasonable when I have been pulled over.

  • Neil Johnston (author) said:

    @taylor192,
    I agree the limits are not arbitrary, but one is hard pressed to believe that they are set based on safety information in entirety. The Sea to Sky Highway, for example, was limited predominantly to 80kph prior its Olympic upgrade and for a good portion of the proceeding decade. Despite being widened, straightened and generally made safer, the speed limit has been maintained and in several sections reduced. That points to a couple pertinent questions. Have these guidelines have kept pace with the safety developments found in modern automobiles (ABS, ESP, Traction Control)? Or if the motivation behind setting limits like on the Sea to Sky more than safety?

  • jack said:

    Here’s my solution: wear the ugliest hi-viz vest you can find. In my experience it has the effect of making you look slower than you actually are. It’s like speeding ticket repellent.

    Seriously though, since the police have a no-chase policy when it comes to motorcycles, the next step will be for them to enforce the visibility requirements for the rear license plates. Then they just need one good pic and they will meet you at home to deliver the punishment.

  • Neil Johnston (author) said:

    @taylor192,
    You raise a good point that like the general public most officers can be trusted. Unfortunately, as cases like Robert Dziekański’s, Orion Hutchinson’s or Firoz Khan’s, demonstrate in an extreme way that there are members within the law enforcement community who cannot be trusted. The ability to administer road side impoundments without checks and balances (or fundamental justice) exposes the riding and driving public to abuse within the framework of the law, with no immediate means of defence or presumption of innocence.
    A majority of the police I’ve spend time with, both friends and acquaintances, are as you put it “reasonable nice Canadians”. Unfortunately, I’ve met others that I wouldn’t trust on a walk to the corner store, let alone with playing judge and jury at the road side. They proudly wore their prejudices, enjoyment of power and biases towards non-members like badges. Worse many who would be the target of this law treat their badges like a get our of excessive free card, but that’s a story for another day.
    It’s not the majority the public needs protection against, it’s the minority who can be abusive.

  • taylor192 said:

    Neil,

    I understand there are bad officers who will abuse the rules – yet officers previously had the ability to impound and suspend your license for other false infractions. A couple buddies on sportbikes excessively speeding could easily be judged as racing, and the current street racing law (since 2001) applied to impound the bikes for up to 30 days. Since 2001 how many times has this happened? I cannot find a post on any BC motorcycle forum indicating this has been abused.

    There is a system to discipline officers who step out of line whether they use a gun, taser, or tow truck. We have to trust the system will take care of these bad officers – cause the alternative is to not trust any of them, cause that seemingly good officer could be the next bad apple. (The police do have to do a better job of policing their own members, yet that it another topic :) )

    The same was true in Ontario before the stunt racing law was introduced. People worried officers would abuse the new law. They did not understand officers already had the power to abuse the existing laws to impound your vehicle or suspend your license. As Knolf pointed out – you were not worried previously cause the laws did not impact you, you’re only worried now cause you probably break the new law and don’t like the new punishment.

    Yet ultimately what is the issue? We (me too!) cannot have as much fun ripping up winding highways in this beautiful province. Yes it sucks, yet we did lose some riders on those winding highways this summer, so perhaps there’s safer and better places to have fun. I’ll hopefully be on the track next year – cya there?

    I do appreciate that you’re allowing a good discussion on this topic.

  • taylor192 said:

    @jack

    Do you remember the 2 bikes fleeing AirOne caught on tape? The police are seeking witnesses despite having video evidence of the bikes breaking several laws. I understood it the same way you do, that if the officer gets your plate that they’ll be waiting for you at home. Maybe it is not that simple – I haven’t been able to get a good answer from any local officer online about this.

  • Neil Johnston (author) said:

    @taylor,
    The core issue, from a civilian’s point of view, is that the system for disciplining such officers exists after the abuse of power, while very little stand in the way of immediate abuse. While police may do a better job of policing their own members than the media portrays, the government has created another process that “breaks” our legal protections. I have no problem with paying a ticket or the impoundment of my vehicle if I’m caught speeding, and I’ve my day in court or the option to admit guilt.

    In response to @Knolf’s pointing out that I wasn’t worries about the previous laws, that’s not actually the case. I worry about the erosion of fundamental Canadian value, protection from abuse of the law by the law, and the assumption that I’m innocent until proven guilty, and civil rights near every morning that I open the paper. However, I primarily write about motorcycles, so while these other concerns are important, they don’t directly bare on my subject area. This law does, and it is a metaphor for a larger issue.

    The problem is that for a disputably classified handful of people who have killed or injured themselves, we’re willing to dismiss core intents of the law and deeper Canadian values. More importantly our government did so without allowing British Columbians critical discourse regarding the law, its punishment, its enforcement or its effects.

    Honestly, the issue of not having “as much fun ripping up winding highways in this beautiful province” isn’t a overwhelming to me. I’ve transitioned a majority of my riding to off-road, though I would love to transit the Sea to Sky at the same pace as traffic without feeling like I have a bullseye painted on me for any constable having a bad day. I’d also like to know that if I go the speed limit, I’m at not risk of being run down by a Whistler bound soccer-mom. But if I out accelerate danger, I’m now running the risk of an oncoming officer misinterpreting the situation. Increasingly though, and maybe I’m just getting old, I choose my moments off the pavement and side with more entertaining bikes over higher HP offerings on.

    To be honest, @taylor192, I’m pleasantly surprised at the overall caliber of the dialog this article has fostered.

  • Kim said:

    @Taylor I hear what your saying but when it’s your word against theirs- that’s not an easy fight and how would even dispute it now. I have never disputed any tickets.
    I haven’t had any tickets in the 5 yrs I have been riding. I have been warned once by a super nice officer and I am thankful for that. I don’t ride like an idiot and put others lives in jeopardy.

    That’s a message that is always enforced even on BCSB. Anyway some great back and forth comments here.
    thanks again and ride safe but try and have some fun… somewhere!… Starbucks? no thanks. lol

  • taylor192 said:

    Neil,

    I noticed you side stepped my example of police being able to abuse the previous existing street racing law to impound your bike and suspend your license. :p Even traveling alone an officer could abuse the existing law to find you guilty of street racing if driving aggressively at high speed. The question is: have the police abused this power? So far I am unable to find an example. Please provide one if there is one.

    Thus why are you so worried about police abuse now? They’ve had the power to abuse an existing law for 9 years that very much affects your subject area. Impounding two riders doubling the limit on the S2S for street racing would not be much of a stretch of the existing law – yet that is not part of your subject area, cause that abuse just does not happen.

    Let us please be honest about why most (not all) people want their day in court: They are hoping to drop the charge/fine for a ticket that was deserved. Most of us very much deserve the tickets we get, we just hope to find a way around the system. Afterall, it is very hard to dispute going 40 kmph over the limit – at that speed it is pretty obvious. :)

    I have disputed tickets in court (I am no angel, I speed). Each time I have been to court I have deserved the ticket. My intention was to get the charge/fine reduced by using (abusing) loopholes in the system. Searching various vehicle and motorcycle BC forums you’ll find much of the same, even advice on how to use (abuse) the loopholes. Rarely do you find a case for disputing a ticket for a valid reason. Sit in traffic court and observe. I have, perhaps too many times :(

    Coincidentally, one of the days I was in traffic court an elderly woman presented a defense of speeding to pass a transport truck. She did not feel safe traveling behind it nor beside it for a lengthy time. The judge did not share her reasoning and commented that if she already felt unsafe, accelerating only served to make the situation worse.

    To revisit a reason you stated: accelerating to avoid a dangerous situation like a faster vehicle tailgating. Recalling my driver training (it has been ~16 years, yikes!), the correct action is to slow down and pull over. Accelerating may only compound an existing dangerous situation, the smarter/safer decision is to pull over.

    I have driven the S2S many times at ~20kmph over the limit and never felt unsafe. The slow sections we complain about are 2 lanes in each direction allowing slower traffic to the right. I’ve even been on a BCSB Squamish run that stuck to ~20 kmph over the limit for new riders not comfortable at higher speeds. No mini-van tried to run us over :p ~20 kmph was fast enough to avoid holding up traffic, yet not fast enough to merit a ticket (in most cases).

    We can keep going back and forth, yet it seems neither of us will be likely victims of any abuse of the new laws – so we should be riding, not wasting time discussing.

  • Neil Johnston (author) said:

    @taylor192,
    Sorry, freaky busy today planning the next adventure series. Sidestepped? Not really, we’ve touched on the subject of excessive before here, with a nod to the potential for abuse. I’ve also dabbled in what it means to ride the speed limit, on the old S2S admittedly. You raise a good point regarding the statistics around police abuse of the new (and old) laws. Exceptionally hard to get ahold of or track, which isn’t to say we’re not working on it, strangely that pertinent of a question doesn’t get you far with Government or Police PR folks.
    Re: acceleration. You’re executing a pass of a group of slower moving vehicles, while a vehicle pulls out behind you and accelerates dangerously following your pass. Hold your speed, or accelerate out of the way to minimize passing time and exposure to risk? Personally I’d accelerate out of the way, and likely break the law doing so. You don’t always have the option of slowing down and pulling over in a threatening situation.
    Gotta run, as you point out, rides do or in my case today plan.

  • shawn said:

    well I for one have been saving alot of money keeping an eye on my speedo and not gunning it other then matching speeds to the highway on ramp. So in one way the government is losing some coin from my pocket cause I’m not giving it up so much at the pump.
    whens the next election? hope there’s someone to actually vote for.

  • Armin said:

    Concerning the impoundments before for street racing. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t they require the officer to contact the superintendent before the vehicles could be towed/impounded, and the alleged charged with street racing? From what I understand, the new laws don’t require this. So it’s entirely up to the officers discretion.

  • hasty hughie said:

    N. This new 40 over law is so sad. Now everyone hugs the limit in the right lane and “daring” drivers clog up the left lane at 10k faster. Just creates congestion. Makes me pine for my 85 Ascot VT 500, but even that could cruise at 125 and lose my ride. Just got to spend the winter re-gearing my bike so that it accelerates at warp speed rubber shredding smoke show, but only until it reaches 119 kph before it hits the rev limiter in every gear. The man is playing with our heads and as the old song says “like looking into my mirror and seeing a police car”.

  • whistle said:

    Most Canadian officers allow for 10-20 kmph over the limit. Why? I don’t know, maybe we’re reasonable nice Canadians . Consider some US states that have 75 mph (120 kmph) limits, yet they are very strictly enforced. Drivers stay under the limit not to risk a ticket. So which would you rather? higher limits and strict enforcement? or current limits and more reasonable enforcement? I’d rather the later, and a big thanks to the officers who were reasonable when I have been pulled over.

    I must respectfully disagree with you on this one. By allowing a greater differential in speed between vehicles you a contributing to a greater risk of accidents.

    Technological advances in vehicle construction and better road engineering should allow us to get from point A to B faster. Raising speed limits and enforcing good driving habits should be our goal.

  • Fish said:

    Great article, thanks; passing this on to other Canadian riders whom live overseas.

    This is an unbelievably harsh right wing governing, how far will BC liberals go? I’m out of touch but don’t they, BC Liberals, call themselves slightly left of center?

    Ride around a few strongly right wing countries in eastern Europe and south east Asia, with respectively massive speeding fines, and note just how many people actually stop for the police on motorcycles. Grandma on a 20 year old 110cc will ignore the popo and make a break for it in Vietnam. Why, cause she knows see can’t afford the fines.

    Looks like if we ever move back to Canada we will be in the market for a couple 50 cc rides…..

  • Fred said:

    All of this just seems to point out the following:

    1)I want to be able to drive as fast as I please on public roads, regardless of the danger to myself and others. Because I want to, so there.

    2)Obviously, I want to do this because I am a better driver than everyone else, therefore our draconianly slow speed limits are MUCH too slow for me. The solution to speeding is RAISE the speed limits! I won’t speed then, I promise!

    3)Enforcement should be something I can afford to risk, please. Don’t make the excessive speeding and drunk driving deterrent something that might actuallly DETER me, OK? I mean, how DARE you?

    4)Obviously, all police officers are going to use this law as a way to take advantage of me. I’m SURE my rights will be violated.

    GIVE. ME. A. BREAK.

    Break the laws? Pay the penalty. Period. Perhaps they should get a car & bike crusher for people that just don’t care and do these things anyways. There – we didn’t take your vehicle away, it’s right there, and it’s all yours. Have a nice day.

  • Kim said:

    LOL I love it when someone (FRED) has to exaggerate to get his point across…

    Obviously, all police officers are going to use this law as a way to take advantage of me. I’m SURE my rights will be violated.

    yeah sure Fred. ALL of them! that’s what I said. sheesh give us all a break!

    I don’t have issues with any of your points except 2 of them.
    the .05 drinking law (targets the wrong people)

    and the fact that there is a chance a cop (and this law makes it easy) that an officer could take advantage of the +40 speeding impound law.

    None of us will have no proof that we weren’t 40 over and they won’t have the time stamped proof that we were. If they provided that I would would be okay with this law.

  • chris said:

    ok for starters
    Fred give all of us a break,certainly you can see the road in front of you.
    Follow the laws for the last 30 years,have fines been going up or down?Have the laws increased in number or decreased. What results are they showing?
    Government loves control or the illusion of control,government loves to justify itself. I do not want to go all two shooters on the grassy knoll ,but there is a loss of common sense in government.
    Most laws make sense on the surface but in practice often are cumbersome ,expensive ,can not provide desired results.For examples check crazy laws stricken from the books.This speeding law will definately provide results but to what end.The common middle class people will pay the fine head down grumble & struggle along.Lawmakers & police will be able to point at the conviction rate which should be acceptably high.The hard to convict crimes will fade from public view,mission accomplished “we’re getting those bad speeders”.
    I end with this ,as an avid motorcyclist for 20+ years the thought of being pulled over with the possible outcome makes me think of fleeing.I have never run from the police, it scares me ,I think I make have just got a little guilty adrenaline rush.
    Oh by the way I just walked by a bottle of mouth wash so according to driiving laws I may be drunk.

  • madjak30 said:

    All of this just seems to point out the following:1)I want to be able to drive as fast as I please on public roads, regardless of the danger to myself and others. Because I want to, so there.2)Obviously, I want to do this because I am a better driver than everyone else, therefore our draconianly slow speed limits are MUCH too slow for me. The solution to speeding is RAISE the speed limits! I won’t speed then, I promise!3)Enforcement should be something I can afford to risk, please. Don’t make the excessive speeding and drunk driving deterrent something that might actuallly DETER me, OK? I mean, how DARE you?4)Obviously, all police officers are going to use this law as a way to take advantage of me. I’m SURE my rights will be violated.GIVE. ME. A. BREAK.Break the laws? Pay the penalty. Period.

    I do agree with these statements…but I also agree with

    By allowing a greater differential in speed between vehicles you a contributing to a greater risk of accidents. Technological advances in vehicle construction and better road engineering should allow us to get from point A to B faster. Raising speed limits and enforcing good driving habits should be our goal.

    I wish they would just focus on enforcing safe driving habits (not necessarily speed)…I would rather someone passed me going 40kph faster than the limit than some moron doing 20kph over and switching back and forth in the lanes and cutting everyone off…no signalling, tailgating, running stop signs/red lights, passing on blind corners…

    It really comes back to our collective skills as drivers…they are trying to protect us from ourselves…???

    As for the speeding…well, stick to within 10% of the limit, and I doubt you will have any police issues…maybe some of you have forgotten the “defensive driving” messages??

    Driving/riding is a privilege, not a right.

    Later.

  • Peter said:

    @madjak30… +1

    Speed limits aren’t arbitrary, people have actually thought about them. I agree some may seem artificially slow, but then again, EVERYTHING seems that way on a litrebike. Of course if you ride a litrebike (or anything remotely sporting) you obviously HAVE to rip it up to have a good ride.

    The local track scene could really use some more warm bodies. How about buying a reasonable street bike (designed for the street, not the track) and if you really have to go warp speeds, invest some money and time in your “passion” and get a track only bike. Takers? Very few, because most people would rather be *perceived* as fast than actually put in the effort and learn how to ride properly.

    I have come to realize that my ride is actually quite pleasant if I’m observing the law. Kim, no officer is going to pull me over for “appearing” to go 40+ over if I’m riding close to the speed limit. I don’t ride a race replica bike (anymore) because it was ridiculous for use on the street, and I don’t need to prove anything anymore. I just like riding. Every day. At the speed limit.

    I haven’t been pulled over in over 25 years of riding, and I never have to worry when I see a cruiser.

  • John said:

    South of the border people are stunned. I visit a lot of motorcycle forums, and everyone is reconsidering spending any time in BC. Not because they’re excessive speeders, but because of the potential for the abuse of power. Good luck with the taser-wielding RCMP. I can’t believe you’re giving these guys even more power. Police are people, and are just as likely to mis-judge speed, lie, and have petty predjudices. They’re even more likely than the average guy to be egotistical arses. That is the personality type that’s drawn to that job. (I know, not all of them, but when I’ve talked to the rational ones in private they tell me ‘Yeah, they’re coworkers are exactly like that.’)It isn’t the rules or speed limits that worry people. It is the lack of ability to make your case if you are falsely accused. I know…Those nice guys in uniform would never do anything like that. They’re our friends, and they’re there to help us.

  • Cheech said:

    I always believed there were other factors that attributed to the majority of crashes that occur. Thanks posting these statistics.

    On another note, I find driving behind slow drivers a reason for inattentiveness, daydreaming and driver fatigue. One is much more alert when driving a little faster.

  • CdnX said:

    Good article and highlights. Speeding as a social ill is statistically pretty far down on the list of contributors to death and injury yet it is politically appealling to attack, who does not want safer roads? Relying on the police officers best estimate of speed with their mark 101 eye ball – even give that the majority are good and honest, doesnt make them right or accurate. What course do they take to judge speed, any refreshers through their career, how do you calibrate an eyeball what about emotions how do these not influence judgement? When would another person with credible credientials at judging moving speeds have their chance to challenge the officers views? The issue of emotional influence is important. I can tell you from ecperience in high stress situations ever person will recall events differently some time details of previous events and locations all meld together. For these reasons we adopted laws that protect us – everyone is innocent until proven guilty and technology such as radar that simply records without interpration.

    As far as concerns over police abuse, well there are at least 106 compelling examples that hint at the possibility: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2008/11/05/bc-police-misconduct-cases.html

  • Mike Rey said:

    Has anything changed since this article was written in 2010? Is there any word this law will be removed or changed?

  • Neil Johnston (author) said:

    The law stands.

  • R Bradbury said:

    So what can we do about this law. Vote out the Liberals? I doubt the NDP would repeal it. Unless of course we can get the media interested. They are the true holders of power in our society without the accountability. If the media were on our side the politicians would fall in line to get re-elected. Now that’s expediency. Driving or riding used to be a pleasure in BC. I wonder if it can be again.

Leave a Reply