We’re facing one of the more serious forest fire seasons that British Columbia has seen in recent memory. Many of these fires are caused by human activity with one of the common activities being the careless disposal of cigarette butts. The provincial government has proposed that when the careless disposal occurs from within a motor vehicle, the vehicle should be impounded for a period of time. Will this idea die a quiet death or if the pace of new fires continues, do you think this is a good solution?
I’m convinced that many smokers flick a butt out of their vehicle without thinking. It was not uncommon to stop a violator and see them take a last drag as I walked up to the vehicle and then watch the butt arc out the window onto the ground. I would offer them the opportunity to retrieve it or suggest I would do it for $81 if they didn’t want to. Inevitably the person would get out and pick the butt up, but not without some thought about whether I was serious or not first.
This is a general safety problem which occurs in many contexts other than those involving a vehicle. Why should we consider using a road safety tool to deal harshly with only part of a wide ranging problem? Is something of an equivalent nature being planned for a hiker who tosses a still burning butt down on a trail or a city stroller who uses a mulched planter instead of an ashtray? If not, we should consider passing on the idea of a vehicle impound.
Why do we seem so reluctant to use people jail on those who put us all at risk? Car jail immediately halts dangerous driving behaviour because there is a direct relation to the problem. While there are probably many sides to the issue of jailing people not the least being that it can happen long after the offence it might be a better choice to focus the mind of careless smokers.
- Articles on DriveSmartBC Related to This Topic
- Cost Recovery & Administrative Remedies – Wildfire Act
- Offences – Wildfire Act
- Cst. Tim Schewe (Ret.) runs DriveSmartBC, a community web site about traffic safety in British Columbia. For 25 years, he was an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, including five years on general duty, 20 in traffic and ten as a collision analyst responsible of conducting technical investigations of collisions. He retired from policing in 2006 but continues to be active in traffic safety through the DriveSmartBC web site, teaching seminars and contributing content to newspapers and web site.