Well, this seems like a cancer ready to spread…
The members of the council in New Westminster wants British Columbia to go in on a “progressive” traffic fines system that uses a person’s income to dictate how much they pay. They reason that since it’s a system Europe has used for several years it must be good.
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What some have observed is that wealthier individuals laugh off speeding and other fines because they’re so tiny in comparison to that person’s financial might. If the fine were calculated as a percentage of someone’s income, it would then hurt everyone equally as bad.
New Westminster Mayor Patrick Johnstone said he thinks this progressive fine structure will make roads safe again. “Traffic safety is an important issue and one of the things that’s coming out of COVID is that it’s actually getting more dangerous in North America to be a pedestrian or cyclist. After many decades of roads getting safer, statistics show they’re starting to get more dangerous again so we’re trying to find innovative approaches to tackle that challenge.”
Do you follow the logic there? Road fatalities are on the rise, something about covid, and fining people more will save lives. It sounds like there have been other efforts to get British Columbia to adopt this practice but they’ve fallen flat. This one might as well, but this idea sounds like it’s spreading from Europe to North America. In other words, it’s only a matter of time before California, New York, and other parts of the US start entertaining progressive road fines as well.
So many bad ideas start in Europe and spread to North America as Canadians and Americans mistakenly believe everything European is somehow superior. There are many ways a plan like this could backfire, but ultimately it seems to be rooted in class division, not a genuine desire to lower road fatalities. After all, cops in some municipalities could purposely profile people in expensive cars, nailing them for even the slightest infractions with the hope they’d score big money in fines. There are better ways to attack the problem of increasing road fatalities.
Image via Brett Sayles