Everyone would like to feel safe in their neighbourhood and that extends to having everyone else obey the driving rules when they are in it. So, what do you do when this is not the case? The answer depends on how much you want to become involved in the solution.
Years of contact with people through my DriveSmartBC web site has taught me that most people either want a sympathetic ear to listen to their complaint or expect someone else, most often the police, to solve the problem after being notified about it. These people do not want to become involved beyond this point, after providing the information it is now an issue for someone else to solve.
Drawing the attention of road safety authorities to a problem is the right place to start though. You have intimate knowledge of your neighbourhood and it’s problems because you live there. You know how often drivers don’t follow the speed limit, don’t stop for stop signs and where the common crash locations are.
The best way to make general complaints is in writing. Although the default agency is often the police, your local MLA, the road maintenance contractor or the district office of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure may be a better choice, depending on the problem. Provide them with a comprehensive description of the problem as you see it including as much detail as you are able to.
I still admire the initiative one man took with speeding vehicles that passed his home. He measured the distance between two telephone poles beside the highway that were visible from his kitchen window. When he had a few spare minutes, he’d sit at the kitchen table with a stopwatch and measure the time between poles for passing traffic. That time was easily turned into a speed that he recorded along with when it occurred. He now had accurate information that he could present to police that backed up his opinion.
You could choose to make an appointment with the local manager of the appropriate service and present your issue personally. The manager will then have a person to go with the complaint that could serve to make it more immediate. Discuss the problems, the possible solutions and obtain a commitment to do something.
Follow up on the commitment after a reasonable time. If some action has been taken you have started down the road to a solution. If not, find out why, as this is important to your next step if you choose to continue to obtain a solution.
If the Ministry does not have the budget for an improvement or the police don’t have the manpower for more frequent patrols, this is an issue to solve along the way, not an excuse for failing to take action.
The internet can be a gold mine for those who want to make a difference. Chances are good that someone else has had the same problem and may already have a reasonable solution. You could join or create a group and lobby more effectively. If you are careful of the source, it is also a great place to do research and learn more about your issue which may provide a path to a solution.
Generally, problems do not go away by themselves. Complain constructively and be a part of the solution. Also, make sure that you are not part of the problem, in your neighbourhood or someone else’s.
To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca.
Constable Tim Schewe (Retired)
DriveSmartBC: Where better than average drivers satisfy their curiosity.