The headline read “Malahat crash sees angry motorists verbally abuse first responders.”
One person died in a T-bone collision on Highway 1 north of Victoria requiring a highway closure from the Summit to the Bamberton exit while emergency responders provided life saving assistance, investigation and cleanup. Closures such as this one are done with the permission of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
This closure lasted from about 4:45 to 9:30 p.m. and since there was no alternate route around the scene, drivers were forced to wait until the closure was lifted.
I can understand the drivers being unhappy with the wait and I’m sure that if I were stuck in the lineup I would likely not have been happy either. However, understanding the nature of what occurred, I can appreciate the need to wait where others could not. This begs the question “What am I entitled to expect as a driver?”
Since we all pay for the construction and maintenance of highways through taxation the first thing that comes to mind is that we should all have reasonable access to use them when we want to. The mode of travel should be irrelevant as well, with drivers, cyclists and pedestrians having equal access.
Our highways should be maintained in usable condition for all modes of travel. This is not always possible due to wear and tear, weather, disaster and yes, blockages caused by collisions. When these situations occur, reasonable efforts to mitigate them must be undertaken.
Depending on need, new highways might be constructed, existing highways modified and unused highways decommissioned.
We should expect road users to follow the laws, drive with skill, constant consideration and behave in a courteous manner to each other at all times. Sharing is the ideal.
If we are involved in a collision or other incident, we must accept responsibility for our actions if we are at fault. Maintaining proper insurance coverage where required is paramount so that those harmed by our mistakes or deliberate bad behaviour may be properly compensated.
There must be consequences for those who cannot or choose not to be responsible when they are on the road. Generally, these are legal via policing, financial through insurance or social as we decide what is acceptable to society. Those consequences can be expected to evolve as we learn and adapt.
If we are becoming unsafe drivers, regardless of the reason, we must take steps to either regain our skills or to stop driving. It is not acceptable to wait until the regulating authorities find out and take steps to stop us. Knowing that we are a risk to others should be enough to decide to stop on our own.
Finally, I cannot always expect unfettered use of the highway on my own terms whenever and where ever I want it.
No doubt you have additional ideas or may wish to expand on those that I have already listed here. If you would like to comment, send an e-mail to email@example.com and I’ll post them with this article on the DriveSmartBC web site.
Constable Tim Schewe (Retired)
DriveSmartBC: Where better than average drivers satisfy their curiosity.