A driving instructor says that extreme speeders should have their licenses taken away. According to CBC News, Jim Brazil of Safety Services NL said that fines and demerit points were not enough to deter “extereme” speeders, such as one who was recently arrested near St. John’s going 176 km/h. And he’s right.
NL uses a demerit system. A driver caught going that fast might lose four points, a third of the number needed to have a licence revoked. Brazil feels that this measure isn’t enough – such reckless driving merits an immediate licence revocation.
Mr. Brazil has a point. Such extreme speeding is very dangerous, and does result in horrific collisions. For this reason, extreme speeding should be treated like drunk driving, another reckless and deadly crime.
The problem is that even drunk driving is not treated seriously enough, not in Newfoundland and not in many other places. Licence suspension is often the punishment for repeat offenders, and studies show that it does not work. Half or more of suspended drivers operate their vehicles despite having no driving privileges.
Those suspended drivers will drink – and they will speed.
The Ignition Interlock Solution
There is a technological answer to drunk driving. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. A number of provinces require the devices for all impaired driving offences, and others for repeat offences.
Is there a similar device for speeders? Speed limiters do exist, though no legislation has ever been passed requiring speeders to use them. In the US such devices have been proposed for trucks.
Many newer cars have valet mode, which prevents parking valets from speeding. Eventually a mode might be introduced preventing a vehicle from going above, say, 100 or 110 kph, which can be engaged if a court or DMV orders it. Such a development will be controversial, of course, but road safety law is no stranger to controversy, back from the days of seat belt legislation.
The point: if extreme speeding is to be treated like drunk driving – and it should – then solutions should be found that work. Licence suspension isn’t it. For drunk driving, ignition interlocks are proven to reduce recidivism and alcohol-related crash deaths. For extreme speeding, solutions are still on the drawing board.