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The Decisions of Governments

In a departure from my usual topics I thought I would venture into the political arena for a day! I don't expect everyone to agree with my points, but they might make you think.

Sometimes (often?) I have to shake my head at the decisions that our governments make. I could obviously talk about the many levels of government, and quasi government, that complicate the life of a business person. I especially like it when they set up "red tape" commissions, or task forces to look into reducing the burden on the poor business owner. The end result is just one more government group wanting to take our time!

Forgetting about the "business owner" side of things for the moment, there were a couple of announcements last week that caught my eye. One from Quebec where last week they announced that the province will ban the use of hand held cell phones in cars. A related article quoted the Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty as saying there is no plan to do the same in Ontario, the focus here is to crack down on speeders.

The real issue here is the number of deaths on the roads. Speeding is obviously an issue, but really the root cause of the problem is bad driving habits. I also believe that poorly maintained vehicles play just as big a factor in road deaths as pure speeding.

There is a backlash because of some tragic circumstances surrounding deaths due to young people racing on the roads. That is a criminal issue, not a driving issue. Tackle it the same way you tackle any criminal issue, catch the culprits and put them in jail!

If governments really want to make a dent in the problem of people dying on our roads then they should enact a whole bunch of related laws, that together would reduce the problem ... and provide jobs, for car mechanics, driving instructors etc!

1. Increase the speed limits on major highways in line with the realities of today's driving conditions. 130kph on the HWY401 is the speed traffic flows today, and would be a very safe highway speed. Review speed limits on all roads where the limit is artificially low.
2. Increase fines and points for all speeding infractions. (Assuming the speed limits are now reasonable)
3. Mandatory driving tests for all drivers every 5 years. Should include video demonstrating results of driver error, need for total focus on driving when driving etc.
4. Readily available advanced driver testing that would result in significant insurance breaks. Include defensive driving techniques, knowledge of the vehicle, poor weather driving, skid control etc.
5. Automatic driving ban for all moving infractions by young drivers. (Escalating from 1 month to 3 months to 6 months to 1 year).
6. Mandatory snow tires to be installed between dates commensurate with the region involved.
7. Mandatory vehicle safety test every year at licensing time for all vehicles older than 3 years.

Should we ban cell phones in cars ... yes! Should we have photo radar ... not so sure, but if it really makes a difference then why not! However, these are measures that tackle the symptoms not the root cause! If the real issue is deaths on our roads then the role of government surely is to tackle the issue, not play for political favor!