Tag Archives: speeding

Slow down, Lewis

Les autoroutes ne sont pas des pistes de course

This sign appears on highway notice boards this week in anticipation of the Canadian Grand Prix Sunday on Ile Notre-Dame. It’s there because the F1 season awakes the armchair race-car driver in too many people who push their way-too-loud engines to the limit speeding recklessly down roads and putting people’s lives at risk.

Respectez les limites!

In case that doesn’t work, the second part of the message reminds drivers of how much they’ll have to pay if they’re caught speeding.

I was reminded of this tonight when, as I walked through the late-night F1 celebrations on Peel St. and McGill College Ave. and St. Catherine St., I came across a vehicle collision at the corner of de Maisonneuve Blvd. and Jeanne-Mance St.

Above is the result: A young family (with a small child) stand outside shocked (but unharmed) after their car was hit in the back and spun around. A bystander points west toward where the car that hit them had sped off.

The other vehicle didn’t get far. After speeding away from the scene with a right front tire ripped to shreds, it pulled over two blocks away at the corner of City Councillors (total distance: about 1,000 ft or 300 metres). They were quickly joined by police, who asked some questions of the driver (in the far left of this photo, trying to explain to an outraged bystander how this wasn’t a hit-and-run). Shockingly, the driver turned out to be a man about 20 with his girlfriend (the one with the see-through shirt) in the passenger seat.

The driver, who denied having drunk any alcohol, said he drove the two blocks because he was looking for a place to park, not because he was trying to get away.

The damage could have been a lot worse. A bumper and turn signal is much easier to replace than a child.

As to whether this qualifies as a hit-and-run, or whether speeding and/or alcohol might have had something to do with this midnight crash, I’ll leave that judgment to you (and, possibly, the courts).

Another radar trap alert service of dubious morality

LCN has picked up the scent of findesamendes.com, a website that seeks to help drivers with speeding tickets by letting them know where radar traps are.

If that sounds familiar, it’s similar to a service being offered by SOS Ticket, which I wrote about in January. Both are perfectly legal, though the fact that they’re undermining police efforts, and they’re not all that effective in their task, do raise some eyebrows.

It’s also unclear how findesamendes.com plans to support itself financially if it’s not asking for any money from users.

But hey, anything to help reckless speeders.

TWIM: Are speeding tickets a government conspiracy?

This week’s Justify Your Existence is Alfredo Munoz of S.O.S. Ticket. You’ll recall earlier this month there was some dust kicked up at a new service from this ticket-fighting brigade setup by a former police officer. That service alerts drivers to radar speed traps, so they can slow down and not get a ticket.

The article (which Kate thinks has an editorializing headline but I think is a legitimate question, even though I didn’t write it) is cut off online. Here’s the missing text:

Alerts are given to drivers by text message on their cellphones. Doesn’t that encourage dangerous cellphone use while driving?

We can walk and chew gum at the same time. It takes a second to read, and you can hold the cellphone in front of you as you read it, to keep your eyes on the road. It doesn’t worry me. We’ve studied this. Ads on the side of the road or drinking a coffee are more of a distraction than a text message.

I talked with Munoz last week in the small company’s log-cabin-like offices in Old Montreal, around the corner from the municipal courthouse. He sat me down on his expensive-looking leather couch and we talked for a while about the ethics of his service and tickets in general.

Munoz, a young technically-proficient businessman, not only didn’t agree that what he was doing was morally questionable. He feels he’s helping society through this service:

  • It keeps the idea of speed traps in drivers’ heads, so they’re conscious that they need to slow down
  • Because it relies on members reporting speed traps, it’s not 100% and won’t encourage people to drive faster because they can never be sure a cop isn’t there
  • Everyone speeds anyway. It isn’t less safe
  • Speeding tickets don’t make highways safer, they just bring in more money to the police
  • Dangerous driving is caused by 16-18-year-olds who are taught about signage and the highway code but not how to drive safely or keep a car under control in an emergency

Munoz sees S.O.S. Ticket as the only true force representing regular car drivers. He philosophizes that nobody has ever changed the world by being liked by everyone.

Whether he does more good than harm is something for you to decide.

SOS Ticket expanding its ethically-questionable services

S.O.S. Ticket, the service setup by former Montreal police officer Alfredo Munioz to help people defend traffic tickets, has launched a new service. For 50 cents per message, drivers can subscribe to a radar trap alert service, which will notify them by text message when and where police officers are checking people for speeding.

The service says they find this out through the use of “road agents” (spies) who look around for them and report them.

Aside from the inherent problems essentially keeping track of every police car in the city and every SQ vehicle on the highway, there are serious ethical implications as well. Defending people in court is one thing. Helping them to (essentially) avoid police while committing a road infraction seems a bit more serious.

Not to mention that it encourages people to speed.

Quebec to censor fast-car ads?

It’s pretty well agreed among most reasonable people that speed is bad. Unless you’re speeding just a bit above the speed limit, then it’s ok because everyone else does it and you’re not hurting anyone. But anyone who drives faster than you is a maniac, and everyone who drives slower than you is an idiot.

So, some wonder, why do cars have speedometers that go up to 180kph? Why not just technologically limit how fast they can go and make it simpler for everyone?

Well nobody is doing that quite yet, but Quebec is taking a step in the direction of making automakers responsible for speeding. They’re considering banning all advertising that glorifies excessive speeding. Basically all that “professional driver on closed course” stuff, as well as shots of ski-doos flying through the air.

It’s clear that self-regulation isn’t effective here. Half of car ads feature unsafe driving, possibly in violation of the industry’s own rules about advertising. New Zealand started cracking down on these kinds of ads years ago, and Australia is running interference suggesting speeders have small penises.

To see an example of how bad it is, take a look at this Volkswagen commercial, which features speeding, unsafe driving, near-collisions and apparently drunk driving, with the moral of the story that the car’s safety systems will leave you without a scratch no matter how far you push the envelope.

That’s just irresponsible. It’s time to shut down the closed course.

UPDATE (Dec. 22): Of course, to say that such a law is a ridiculous overstepping of legislative authority, a gross attack on free speech and an outrageous violation of our rights by a nanny-state too concerned with wasting our money pretending we’re idiots would also be true.