In an era of blanket personal entitlement, the rules of the road have become mere suggestions in Squamish, subject to interpretation based on the mindset of the beholder.
This is not an entirely new development. Traffic regulations have been compromised since the Flintstones affixed wheels to the family buggy.
What’s different these days is the constantly expanding range of prohibited activities where the rubber meets the road, including tailgating, speeding, red-light running and a blatant disregard for stop signs.
U-turns on busy streets have become standard practice and for legions of motorists, the use of turn signals has become passé.
As well, scores of drivers habitually ignore prominently displayed “Keep Right Except to Pass” signage.
They either hog the passing lane at or below the speed limit, or they camp there for the duration of their journey while putting the pedal to the metal well over the posted speed limit.
Gaming the rules has become standard practice, no matter the make, model or shape of the vehicle. It is not uncommon for professional drivers who handle large commercial vehicles to regularly flout traffic statutes with impunity, sometimes glaringly so.
Numerous visitors from out-of-province seem to have no problem embracing our loosey-goosey driving practices, even if they are accustomed to toeing the line on their home turf where traffic laws are more rigidly enforced. Many novice drivers whose vehicles prominently display an “N” sticker bypass the stern warnings they soaked up in driving school and willingly accept the de facto rules of the road unfolding around them.
But to be fair, the culpability net has to be spread much wider.
Drivers are not the only participants in the rule evasion sweepstakes. Jaywalking, and doing so while texting, is gaining in popularity. The world of two-wheeled transportation has its catalogue of sketchy practices. More and more cyclists ride wherever they please, on sidewalks, in crosswalks, and against traffic on roadways with cycling lanes.
In that parallel universe, they blow through stop signs and red lights with reckless abandon. So what can be done to stem the tide of artful rule evasion?
Should we boost the police presence on our roadways, or install more red-light cameras and re-introduce photo radar?
In all likelihood, a systematic and co-ordinated response from the powers-that-be will only be triggered when the needle on the communal shock and awe meter redlines following a dramatic spike in injuries and fatalities.
That said, after projecting another year of billion-dollar losses as injury claims mount, our provincial auto insurance provider has finally caught on that we have a problem.
This past August, ICBC received approval from the B.C. Utilities Commission to hike the basic insurance rate by 6.3 per cent.
And policyholders will have to list one and all who intend to get behind the wheel of their vehicles.
Additionally, driving experience and crash history will have a much bigger impact on insurance premiums.
Let’s hope those changes help to dial back the widespread scofflaw behaviour plaguing our streets and highways.