By Jordan W. Charness
There’s a new breed of speeding ticket out there. In the past few years many provinces have passed new legislation to beef up their arsenals and clamp down on motorists who drive too quickly.
When cars were first invented they were small-engined, heavy vehicles that could barely pass a horse-drawn buggy. The whole idea of the emerging technology was to increase the power of an engine without dramatically increasing its size. Car manufacturers competed to see who could make their cars go the fastest, and of course, roads had to be invented and built that could handle the faster moving machines.
Before you knew it, cars could zoom along well-maintained highways at quite a clip. People enjoyed driving quickly but many people also died because of the way they drove. Laws were enacted fairly early to regulate the speed you could drive on any given road and the police were tasked with enforcing these rules.
In the beginning, the only penalty for driving too quickly was a fine, and those who had more money could afford to drive faster. It didn’t take long for lawmakers to realize that some sort of demerit point system would be required, or at very least that there should be some way to take away the driving privileges of someone who became a danger to others when they got behind the wheel.
If you drove too quickly, you got a fine and some demerit points that could eventually lead to losing your licence. Each province enacted their own system with differing amounts of points leading to sanctions. In the latter part of the 20th century, the police were reasonably tolerant of speeding, and those who were a danger were charged with the criminal code offence of dangerous driving.
Now, there’s a new way of looking at excessive speeding. Many of the provinces have now decided that they will double or triple the fines and points related to excessive speeding and hit you with additional sanctions as well. Each province defines excessive speeding differently but in general if you’re going more than 40 km/h over the speed limit you are driving too fast.
There are some who say that these excessive speeding tickets are just a cash grab. Other detractors claim that taking away so many demerit points for just one ticket is unfair and too hefty a punishment for the crime. After all, they point out that just because you’re speeding does not necessarily mean you’re a danger to yourself or others on the road.
One police officer friend of mine says that the whole demerit point system should be scrapped in favour of a system similar to what they have in some countries where, if you get three traffic tickets of any kind in one year, you lose your driving privileges for at least a year. No demerit points to worry about, and as long as you can count to three, you’ll know just where you stand.
Personally, I think that the excessive speeding laws in most places are just that: excessive. I feel that if you are driving quickly and dangerously then you should be arrested and charged with dangerous driving. If you are driving safely and beyond the speed limit late at night when there’s no traffic, you should still be pulled over and ticketed, but the old fines and demerit points were sufficient to convince you not to do it again.
Nevertheless, this trend seems to be here to stay; my recommendation is to slow down, drive safely and within the posted speed limits.