The unbearable lightness of speeding

The unbearable lightness of speeding

I love speed cameras because they make people angry for getting caught doing the wrong thing. 

Yet they are easy to avoid, unlike a speed trap on the highway. They don’t move, for one thing. And they’re not hiding. There are several big signs announcing their presence, and clear indications of where the enforcement zone begins and ends. 

And yes, you are supposed to pay attention to signs. That’s one reason you’re not allowed to be on your phone. 

Every time I write about speed cameras I get irate emails (all, so far, from people who present as men) decrying this unfair cash-grab. They demand to know why we put up with tools that punish motorists who drive way too fast in school zones. 

No, seriously. The argument, if I may use that word without the dictionary kicking me in the shins, goes like this:

You’re going about your business, in your climate-controlled metal box, sitting there listening to hate-radio, and of course you’re running late because, well, never mind why, the point is, it’s 7:58 am and you’re in a hurry. 

And they — them, you know, the army of wokes running, nay, ruining everything at city hall — they, them, are forcing you to slow down. And if you don’t, they steal your money. Just because there are little kids around. 

Like, sheesh. Can’t these annoying snot carriers be driven to school and stay inside like the productive future workers we’re desperately trying to turn them into? 

Speed cameras were invented by busybodies who walk everywhere unless they’re buying two by fours at Lowe’s and taking them home on one of those elongated inverted tricycles just to post the fucking picture on twitter. 

These people have no clue what it’s like being late for work and forced to crawl at 40 km/h on a stretch of road engineered for speeds twice that in a perfectly maintained vehicle that, on top of everything else, doesn’t ride smoothly unless you’re in fourth gear. 

In 2022 the 17 cameras we have plaguing Ottawa issued 127,939 automated tickets to people who weren’t hurting anyone. They stole money from drivers who were using the roads they pay for through their taxes on their way to something important like earning more money than they need selling investment homes to REITs. 

It’s an average of over 7,500 tickets per monstrous machine, or more than 20 a day each, 365 days a year, without exception. 

Worse? The City is planning to add another 17 cameras this year. Just to steal money from honest citizens because they drive a little bit too fast for dweeby bureaucrats who never travel faster than the speed of LRT (current status: stalled again). Losers. 

And what do they do with all the money they steal from us? They spend it on more measures to slow people down. Just when we’re coming out of the pandemic and wanting — no, needing — to go fast again, to make up for all that time we were stuck at home slowly. 

We should not stand for it. We shouldn’t even sit down for it. We should rebel, yell, pout and snout for our right to go at whatever speed GM, or God and Master, intended for our well-lubricated engines.

I trust you seethed through this little bit of satire. Except it’s not satire. People don’t call GM God and Master but they otherwise worship not just their cars but their right to drive those machines pretty much as they see fit. For real, I mean. 

Fortunately most people are reasonable enough. Fortunately because otherwise there’d be dead bodies all over everywhere. Thing is, we shouldn’t rely on people being mostly reasonable behind the wheel most of the time to ensure the safety of vulnerable road users. We need rules, and we need those rules to be enforced. 

For some reason, there is never enough resources to monitor the roads and ensure the rules are respected. That means robots have to do the job of humans. Hence red-light and speeding cameras. I’m hugely in favour of both, because they ensure compliance with well-advertised rules in particular around areas where children are known to dart around like the unpredictable screeching bullets they are. 

Ideally we should all follow all the rules all the time. That’s the message I am getting, loud and clear, thanks to my recent acquisition of a brand-new G1 driver. And boy, if there’s anything more annoying than a know-it-all teenager it’s a know-it-all teenager who’s actually right about shit. 

“Mom, broadcast your intentions,” I hear, often, as I can be slow to activate the little blinking light that tells the world before and behind me that I do indeed intend to make a turn. I can be a touch nonchalant about that, I don’t mind admitting, especially when I’m in a lane clearly reserved for vehicles preparing to make a turn. 

“Where else would anyone think I’m going except left? We’re in the left-turning lane!” 


Young people who are in the midst of the rite of passage knows as Driver’s Ed have all the rules memorized and since they live in a zero-tolerance world with their temporary permits they feel, not unreasonably, that other people should be made to know and respect the rules, too. 

Now I’m actually very much a goody-two-shoes on the road. In part that’s because I enjoy pissing people off. There is nothing on this earth that makes people angrier faster (oh the irony) than driving the speed limit. Try it one day, you’ll see. 

But in the end, we all must do a better job of following the rules. Maybe not to the decimal point, but close enough, you know? There is no hurry big enough that it justifies taking anyone’s life. Cameras or not.