Bad manners make bad drivers and it's costing ICBC, argues former civil servant

Douglas Welbanks, a former director of debtor assistance and debt collection for the B.C. government, says he thinks the root of the problem is with drivers who are not only inattentive but downright rude on the roads.

‘Courtesy is certainly a really important ingredient to safe driving,’ says former debt director

"That’s a culmination of this culture we have of pressure, people trying to get to work, trying to get home to their children — a lot of the anger that people experience have roots in reality," says Douglas Welbanks. (Shutterstock)

ICBC is facing a financial crisis, with projected losses of $1.3 billion in the coming year, and fingers are pointing in all directions at who is to blame.

The province's Attorney General David Eby has placed some of the blame for the net losses on the previous B.C. Liberal government's failure to reform the insurance company.

Costly repair and claim payouts, and soaring legal fees are also part of the problem.

Douglas Welbanks, a former director of debtor assistance and debt collection for the B.C. government, says he thinks the root of the problem is with drivers who are not only inattentive but downright rude on the roads.

"It's a long standing grievance in terms of people simply not showing respect for basic things like stopping for stop signs," Welbanks told CBC host of The Early Edition Stephen Quinn.

He recently wrote a letter to Eby about, "the role that culture plays in today's world of reckless and aggressive behaviour."

'Pride in being nice'

Basic courtesy and manners, like holding the door for someone in need or saying thank you, have deteriorated in the past decades and it's showing up on the roads, Welbanks argued.

"We should take pride in being nice to people and courtesy is certainly a really important ingredient to safe driving," he said.

He frequently sees drivers speed past, cut others off and, occasionally, get out of their vehicle to yell at another driver.

"There are a whole number of examples of how our society has changed from my time in the sixties," he said. "We didn't have this kind of aggression that we have today."

Considerate driving shouldn't just happen when police are watching, he said, but enforcement that goes beyond fines for breaking laws would be beneficial.

"It would be nice to see a little more enforcement on the courtesy stuff," he said. "Any aspect that shows respect and congenial attitudes are very much needed."

Bringing back the thank-you wave, slowing down and be willing to let others in could go a long way to reducing collisions, he says.

Douglas Welbanks, a former director of debtor assistance and debt collection for the B.C. government, says he thinks the root of the problem is with drivers who are not only inattentive but downright rude on the roads. 9:00

With files from The Early Edition.

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