After more than 40 years in the news business, I'm not easily shocked — especially by what goes on in B.C.'s lethargic, soft-touch justice system.

But I was stunned by the not guilty verdict last week handed 26-year-old Andelina Hecimovic, charged with two counts of dangerous driving causing death in the 2010 Pitt Meadows "accident" that killed two other young people.

The court acquittal came despite evidence that Hecimovic was speeding and ran a red light shortly before the crash, in which her car skidded over a concrete median, slamming into one in which 19-year-old Beckie Dyer and boyfriend Johnny De Oliveira, 21, were travelling en route home from a Justin Bieber concert.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Miriam Gropper clearly bought Hecimovic's sob story about having had a bad day at work. She even noted her behaviour was not a "marked departure from the norm" since many folks speeded along that part of the Lougheed Highway.

"Going through a red light is dangerous, but it happens," Gropper was quoted as saying in the Maple Ridge News. "People misperceive lights."

And judges misperceive the obvious, one is tempted to add. Or at least their routine leniency appears in sharp contrast to the rough justice the RCMP meted out last month on vacationing Delta dad Andrew Scott when pulling him over at a speed trap east of Hope.

Scott was handed a $360 speeding ticket, had his family vehicle impounded for a week and was left by the side of the road with his wife and two kids.

The moral of all this, I guess, is that driving badly is OK in B.C. provided you kill someone ... or two.

Not that any of us should take all this lightly. Far from it. In fact, the problem is we as a society have become so lax about our driving habits that our courts can't seem to bring themselves to punish us for them ... and the only justice dished out is of the roadside variety.

Driving is a serious business. The penalty for even little mistakes can be deadly. We all must be much more careful, courteous and capable behind the wheel.

Capable? Yes, I see motorists daily who tailgate, don't signal and refuse to pull over, blocking traffic, while immersed in their cellphones.

To help change these selfish, dangerous behaviours, we should seriously toughen the standard of driving required to obtain a licence — and retest motorists every five to 10 years, if need be.

We also must widely reinforce the need for motoring excellence, and make British Columbians proud to be good drivers.

We don't need photo radar in school zones, as the Union of B.C. Municipalities recommended last week. We do require realistic speed limits.

Above all, though, we should have more consideration for others with whom we share the road.

To this end, we need courts that reinforce basic driving rules, don't make excuses for those who flagrantly abuse them — and don't leave it up to the cops to act like judge and jury.

Source: The Province


Last updated on: 2013-10-21 | Link to this post