The Automobile Association was launched in 1905 in the UK to help motorists avoid speed traps. The BCAA is a descendant of this group however their commitment to the cause of standing up for the rights of motorists has been hollow, to put it politely.

Although the American Automobile Association (AAA) opposed the use of photo radar surveillance on the basis that such systems undermined the fair and reasonable enforcement of traffic laws, and despite well researched opposition to photo radar by AAA, BCAA helped champion photo radar use in BC beginning in 1996. BCAA even commissioned surveys with obvious built-in bias and leading questions to support their position as they encouraged the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia and the NDP government at the time.

A BCAA brochure dated 10/95 stated: “BCAA takes your views to government on issues concerning BCAA members and motorists. You can help BCAA encourage government to continue its efforts by completing the following form and returning it to BCAA: [check mark] YES! I support the government’s plan to save lives and reduce health care and insurance costs by using photo radar to catch speeders.”

In June 1995, Brian Hunt, President of the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) called for the setting of speed limits using the 85th percentile (i.e. 15 percent of vehicles would be exceeding the posted speed limit, under free-flow conditions). This was a good thing however apparently his BC counterpart, BCAA Director of Government Affairs John Ratel, didn’t see the ill advised hypocrisy at the time in a vicious campaign against speeders, when what constituted a speeder was in question. Highway speed limits in BC were then typically aligned at the 30th percentile (i.e. 70 percent of vehicles would be exceeding the posted speed limit, under free-flow conditions), yet BCAA stubbornly supported photo radar enforcement of BC speed limits which were not set at the 85th percentile, and in many cases are unjustifiably low.

Recently, the BC Liberal Government has enacted draconian, unfair, undemocratic (probably in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights) changes to the motor vehicle act which have stripped people of their rights to due process, unspecified traffic fines through vehicle seizures. These have little safety benefit. Where has your BC Automobile Association been for its members? Nowhere. Silent. BCAA prefers to be one of the largest sellers of ICBC insurance and presumably prefers not to ruffle the feathers of its supplier.



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