COLUMN: Acknowledging the reality of our roads

It’s been years since I mounted a radar detector on the windshield...

COLUMN: Acknowledging the reality of our roads

It’s been years since I mounted a radar detector on the windshield.

It’s not like my driving has become more mellow with time, I just figure I get passed by so many others I might as well let them run tackle with the cops.

I bought the unit primarily to prevent me from being ticketed on Highway 97 rolling back and forth between Quesnel, and for my occasional cruises over the Coquihalla.

Not that I was driving at excessive speed, but for the most part 97-North is relatively straight and in great condition. It also carries a low volume of traffic … not a lonely road but one where usually the hazards are errant wildlife rather than other cars and trucks.

With those favourable conditions, it’s easy to exceed the often low-posted speed, thus the potential for a gold mine in traffic tickets.

Highway 3, for much of its distance four lanes, is also less-travelled, at least outside the summer-vacation peak. Yet it too is posted with speed limits far below the drivability of the road.

The Coq, which has our highest posted limits at 110 km/h, is heavily travelled, but is a route that begs for higher limits when it’s bare and dry.

I will admit to abusing those limits on occasion (see reason for radar detector above), though not as bad as the Viper driver who wailed by me, only to be seen stopped by a cop a couple of miles further on.

A few minutes and miles later, he flashed past me again and sure enough, with my detector beeping away, he was back on the side of the road with another cop.

This obviously was back in the day before just one ticket left you standing on the shoulder, watching your car being hauled away on the back of a wrecker.

I can just imagine the pain being caught en route to a week in the woods, seeing my truck, trailer, camping gear and hunting paraphernalia impounded  (and possibly lost) for exceeding an 80 k speed limit on a road and in a vehicle, capable of handling 20 or 30 k more.

Not only are you heavily fined, there are towing, impoundment and storage fees (hey, everyone gets to take advantage), there’s getting a long, and possibly pricey, ride home from your lonely spot on the roadside.

That is why, with a great “It’s about time” sigh, that I read last week of new Transportation Minister Todd Stone announcing he has ordered a review of highway speed limits with an eye to, thank God, raising them on many routes.

B.C. taxpayers pay vast sums to build, improve and maintain roads to Autobahn standards, yet we face speed limits on them more appropriate to congested city streets.

Since Stone’s announcement, a group called Sense BC has released video, now gone viral, called “Speed Kills Your Pocketbook.”

Check it out.

The point – mine, that of Sense BC and of, I assume, the Minister – is that our roads, our vehicles and the ability of most drivers are capable of handling, where it’s safe, higher speed limits.

It is not only about time, it makes sense. A drive on any of our major routes – the Coq, 97, and even the No. 1 through the Valley – demonstrates that people not only can safely drive faster, they do, all the time.

If higher speeds work safely on the I-5 and other U.S. freeways, then why not here?