I feel fortunate school district superintendent Terry Sullivan no longer teaches students since he “believes photo radar does curb speeding,” which has no basis in fact and he advocates this based on an anecdote told to him by a Penticton mayoral candidate who once heard that a car drove over a foot (The Daily News, Aug. 28).
This is hardly enough to change public policy and shows lack of critical thinking skills and contempt for logic and the scientific method.
A shortlist of groups that, using scholarly principles, have denied the efficacy of photo radar to alter driver behaviour and affect safety includes the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (U.S.) and the B.C. Medical Association and its committee on traffic safety on which I was a member for 12 years and was tasked to review all data on MVA’s and traffic safety.
A long established scientific advocacy group in B.C. under Ian Tootill is called SENSE (safety through education not speed enforcement) and its efforts are directed at the education of the public by publicizing the leading causes of traffic accidents/fatalities.
The Canadian Medical Association general council at its 2003 AGM in Winnipeg resolved that all levels of government direct their attention to the leading causes of traffic accidents and fatalities. These include in order:
* Failure to yield
* Driving without due care and attention
* Excess speed for weather/road conditions
* Driving under the influence (today including cellphones)
* Speeding comes in just above hitting wild animals.
The CMA also advocated improvement in driver education based on the European model rather than “if you can parallel park you can drive.” This would address superintendent Sullivan’s “noon hour issues by some of our students” and take photo radar off the table.
City councillor Marg Spina when she attends the Union of B.C. Municipalities’ upcoming meeting should take note of the wealth of scientific evidence on traffic safety and not drink the Kool-Aid of photo radar.
My only brother was killed at age 37 by a bad driver and I have been an advocate of safe driving for decades. Photo radar would contribute nothing to the debate but if superintendent Sullivan would teach within his jurisdiction the evil of mixing cellphones and texting while at the wheel, he will have earned our gratitude and probably saved a life along the way.
DENNIS M. KARPIAK, MD