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Behind-the-Wheel

ICBC’s top 10 excuses for why drivers speed

Speedy excuses

I found this old article from 2009 where ICBC asked police from around the province to share the top excuses they heard from drivers who they stopped for speeding.

I don't think they are excuses as much as they are attempts by drivers to justify their behaviour. In their minds, they weren't doing anything wrong.

1. I’m late for class/work/court. This age-old excuse won’t work, especially if you’re on your way to court. “My boss will fire me” or “My teacher will fail me” are lines that won’t work either. Be more realistic, plan your route and allow yourself extra time. There are many things that cause delays, such as traffic, construction, bad weather and, unfortunately, car crashes. If you’re going to be later than expected, deal with it. Take a deep breath and accept the delay. Like they say, better late than never.

2. I didn’t know I was going that fast. Normally, your speedometer doesn’t lie. Though playing dumb with the police will definitely earn you points—that’s penalty points and a hefty fine. Remember to check your speedometer once in a while. Also, be sure to focus on the road. Unsafe speed is one of the most frequently cited contributing factors in police-reported car crashes. Slowing down reduces your risk of getting in a crash.

3. I didn’t know the speed limit. That’s like saying you didn’t know Canada was north of the U.S. border. The provincial and municipal governments ensure speed limits are clearly posted along highways and city roads. Under the Motor Vehicle Act, the basic speed limits are 80 kilometres per hour outside municipalities and 50 km/h within municipalities.

4. I was passing a dangerous/bad/slow driver. Driving like James Bond or Jason Bourne should be left to the pros in Hollywood blockbusters. Weaving in and out of traffic is one of the top five high-risk behaviours that cause car crashes. Give other drivers the benefit of the doubt and keep your distance.

5. My car doesn’t go that fast. Nice try. Unless you’re driving a low-speed vehicle like a moped or a scooter, your car can go as fast as a swift (the bird, not the Suzuki) which flies between 160 and 320 km/h. A Swedish study shows that dropping your speed by 5% reduces your crash risk by between 14% and 20%.

6. I was just keeping up with traffic. Drivers aren’t like cattle in a herd. Would you keep speeding if the cars in front were heading towards a brick wall? Sure, it’s important to keep up with the flow of traffic, but do so within the posted speed limit. If another driver is too close, safely move out of the way and let the vehicle pass. It’s better to do this than risk a crash or a speeding ticket.

7. I was only going 10 km/h over the speed limit and that’s OK. Actually, if you speed up to 20 km/h over the limit, you could get a $138 ticket. Also, the faster you go, the longer it takes to stop. At 30 km/h, it takes 18 metres to come to a full stop. At 80 km/h, it takes 76 metres. Think of what that looks like when trying to avoid a person, an animal or a large truck.

8. I have to go to the bathroom. Lame. This is something you likely learned from your mom and teachers over the years, always use a washroom before you leave. Plus, this excuse won’t hold up with the cops. There are plenty of gas stations and rest-stops along major roads and highways.

9. I was having an argument with my spouse and wasn’t paying attention. Sure, we all have arguments from time to time (Canucks game vs. Canadian Idol, playing golf vs. a visit to the in-law etc.). But these are far better resolved outside a car. If you simply must resolve the debate, pull over and park. It’s safer. Also, you’ll make it home in one piece after your mother-in-law’s sumptuous cedar plank salmon.

10. I’m sick and am going to the hospital/I’m about to give birth. Really? If you’re that sick or about to give birth in the driver’s seat, call an ambulance. You’re not trained to drive like an emergency medical technician, a police officer or a fire fighter. So, stick with what you know and drive safe. Call a professional and get there safely.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



More Behind the Wheel articles

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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