Restorative Justice Pilot aims to change bad driving behaviours

The other day I was listening to a radio talk show about drivers who are texting while driving. One trucker called in to say that from his perch in his rig, which sits well above most vehicles, at times it appears that everyone has a mobile device open, either on their lap or seat, and many of those folks were using said device.

Now, we know it’s biologically impossible to multi-task. Hence – the concern around drivers who are being distracted by social media. I’ve yet to meet someone who can drive without looking at the road ahead.

Recognizing the prevalence of this dangerous this trend, a smart collaboration was formed to counter-attack.

Distracted Driving Pilot Project

Over two days last December, Victoria police gave out 42 tickets for using an electronic device while driving. The drivers were given a choice: Pay a fine of $543 or participate in a three-hour educational workshop organized by Victoria Police Department and Restorative Justice Victoria, in collaboration with Drop It and Drive (a Traffic Injury Research Foundation education program focused on preventing distraction-related road user fatalities and injuries).

32 of the 42 drivers opted for the workshop. This pilot project aimed at changing driver behaviour.

Here’s Victoria Police Department’s video about the pilot:

Video not displaying, watch it here, on Youtube)

From last week’s Victoria Times Colonist newspaper:

“The Victoria Police Department and Restorative Justice Victoria say it’s the first time in B.C. that people caught using a cellphone while driving had that option instead of a ticket.

Participants, ranging in age from 20s to 60s, were asked to complete cognitive tests that demonstrated how difficult simple tasks become when you’re distracted. They heard personal stories, including those of a retired firefighter who talked about having to pry people out of vehicles in crashes caused by distracted driving.

The session focused on more than just cellphone use, said Karen Bowman (Director, Drop It and Drive), who ran parts of the workshop.

Drivers applying makeup, eating, turning around to check on kids or fussing with a dog on the lap are all distracted and at higher risk of crashing, she said. “If we can make it personally relevant, then we’re going to achieve behaviour change. … We can’t rely on law enforcement to be the only solution to this issue.”…

Frustrated at continuing to see drivers using cellphones behind the wheel, Victoria police Const. Sean Millard came up with the idea for the restorative justice approach…

Restorative justice helps people understand how their actions affect others to create long-lasting change, said Gillian Lindquist, executive director of Restorative Justice Victoria.

Lindquist could see that the personal stories “really hit home for people.”

“It takes it from ‘OK, I’m distracted’ to ‘Oh my God, I could significantly change or take away someone’s life,’ ” she said.

While the workshop was a pilot project, Bowman, Lindquist and the Victoria Police Department would like to do it again and hope the idea spreads across Canada.”

Bad driving behaviours abound

Distracted driving is bad behaviour. Worse, it can be highly destructive.

Drinking and driving is another bad behaviour. It’s why MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) exists.  Thank goodness, as they are changing behaviours, before it’s too late.

Next up: marijuana? Recreational marijuana use will become legal in Canada, starting July 2018. No doubt the federal government had marijuana top-of-mind, with their Don’t Drive High campaign.

What a challenge.

What an opportunity; to change behaviours, through Restorative Justice, and others, leading the proactive learning charge.

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