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DriveSmart BC – Why Are You On The Wrong Side Of The Road?

Fraser Valley – If you watch one of Canada Post’s community mailboxes for a day you will probably see someone drive up and cross over to the wrong side of road to get out and retrieve their mail. If the driver’s arm is long enough they don’t even have to get out to open the mailbox! Who cares about this sort of behaviour? After all, the mailboxes are often on quiet residential streets and doing this doesn’t hurt anyone.

I ran into this rationalization often in traffic policing. Drivers would explain away their failure to follow the rules as being unimportant because they had done it many times before and nothing bad ever happened. My dilemma was, after many years of investigation collisions, I knew that this wasn’t always the case. I had seen the consequences, but for these drivers, repeated decisions to drive improperly had become the new normal for them. In their view, the action had no concerns until I arrived and issued them a ticket.

I’m sure that Carel Scott would concur with my decision to ticket these drivers. She was on her way home to Nelson following an evening at Ainsworth Hot Springs. Paul Erikson had stopped in this manner to retrieve his mail and left his vehicle’s headlights on high beam. Ms. Scott could not see the road due to the glare and assumed that she had to pass by to the right of the stationary SUV. Her vehicle left the road, rolled down an embankment and she was injured. Mr. Erickson was found fully at fault for the collision.

The moral of this story is that what you might consider to be a meaningless breach of the rules for your convenience could have significant consequences for other road users. The next time you are tempted to park on the wrong side, exceed the speed limit or slide through a stop sign, think again. You are not the only one using our highways and you have a duty of care to others.

The author is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. To comment or learn more, please visit

Constable Tim Schewe (Retired)

DriveSmartBC: Where better than average drivers satisfy their curiosity.

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