Police chief tells reporter he is there to change behavior as he hands out speeding tickets.



September 12, 2013

By Milla Pickfield

BURLINGTON, ON.  Bad driving… We all hate it, and yet it is still a problem. Last Tuesday Halton Regional Police Service Chief Stephen Tanner and other Senior Command Officers were outside the Hayden High School to enforce safe driving in the school zone.

Gazette reporter interview Halton Regional Police Services Chief  Stephen Tanner, while police officer in the background hands out a speeding ticket.

Their being there was part of the “All Hands on Deck” program; officers were actively handing out tickets to anyone driving recklessly. The real question is why do we drive recklessly?

We did not learn these habits in driver’s school yet drivers still speed, text, refuse to wear seat belts, ignore school bus signs and crossing guards, and drive in an aggressive manner. So why do we do all of the above? We get annoyed when others perform those tasks and turn around and do them ourselves.

Chief aims his radar gun – didn`t get a speeder this time.

Many of us, at the age of sixteen, were ecstatic to get our G1 driver’s license. We welcomed the freedom that came along with the ability to drive. A year later we finally got the G2 license allowing us to drive without an adult present in the car. Finally, after what felt like forever, we achieve our G license. But what we may forget is that a license is a privilege. In an interview  Chief Tanner told me: “A driver’s license can be taken away.”

After all that hard work and tests to finally get our driver’s license why do we forget to be cautious? I mean on one hand YES! We’re done but on the other, we now don’t have anyone telling us not to cut in front of that other driver or stick up one of our fingers because we are frustrated. “I think it’s because we think of our car as our own personal space and we can do whatever we want in it”, suggested one Burlington citizen I talked with.  It is true. We feel infinite and almost untouchable until we get a speeding ticket. Then we’re just annoyed. 

It is rushing to get somewhere that results in what the police call reckless driving. People don’t want to be late and start to panic while driving, and we all know we wouldn’t be so panicked if we left five minutes earlier. The more panicked and impatient we are the more reckless our driving becomes.  So why not just leave earlier?   Is it because we want to spend as much time at home with our devices?

Our devices… What would we do without them? I know one thing we would do without them, be better drivers!  I’ve sat in the backseat of my car and watched my parents’ text, email, or call while driving and let me tell you it does not help their driving at all!  They don’t see the light when it turns green; they don’t pay attention to the other drivers on the road; and they do this weird head thing where they look down at their phone and then quickly back up to the road, they look about as panicked as I feel just watching them. I mean the fact that they look at their phone longer than the road does not reassure me at ALL!

“Texting has become such a cultural thing that you don’t think about it.” Chief Tanner said.  He’s right,  I know when I hear that buzz from my phone,  I drop everything and check the message. I suppose it’s because we think that the message that just came in could potentially save the world and hold all the answers to life itself… but it really doesn’t and is it worth putting yourself in danger?

 Chief Tanner explained to me that texting when you drive “ you put others and yourself at risk”

 That also raises a good argument that we’ve all heard a thousand times. How many times have you heard someone say; “Don’t text and drive! You put yourself at risk as well as others.” I’ve heard it close to a thousand. It’s almost as common now as; “Don’t drink and drive.” The funny thing is that we don’t think about the consequences until we are facing them.


Speed limit sign is clear – so are those radar guns in the hands of two police officers waiting for someone to break that speed limit. It was an All Hands on Deck day in Burlington earlier this week as police were out in force making the point that driving carelessly in school zones was not going to be tolerated.

“Often people feel invincible and they think they aren’t going to get caught.” Chief Tanner explained. I know that’s how I feel when I do something I’m not supposed to. For example passing notes, or as teenagers refer to it, texting in class. When we do get caught it comes as a shock because we have done it so many times before that we think it is acceptable and we can get away with it. But we can’t because eventually we do get caught.

 That is the most prominent point of the police task. While I was interviewing the chief, other police officers were writing up tickets for people they had pulled over for driving 50 to 60 kmh in a 40 kmh zone.

The police are out there trying to make the roads safer by trying to get us out of old habits that have become instincts.







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