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Was Marci Ien wearing her seatbelt when she ran a flashing red light?

Discussion continues about CTV journalist Marci Ien. She got pulled over for running a flashing red light near a school. She responded with an opinion piece in the Globe & Mail that accused the Toronto Police Service of racial profiling. Her essay painted police across Canada as racist, although she has since admitted that she’s a lousy driver:

“So I’m a bad driver, does that mean I should be profiled?” she said. “I was scared in my driveway … and that’s okay because I’m a bad driver?”

One point she made in her original essay was, “That I have lived in the neighbourhood for 13 years didn’t matter.”  Marci seemed to be suggesting less traffic enforcement for neighbourhood residents, especially if they have lived there a long time. And yet this contradicts the interview she did for Canada AM on August 7, 2008:

IEN: You travelled the world, talking to driving experts, traffic engineers. What surprised you most?

VANDERBILT: Oh jeez, everything. But the one thing that sticks with me is that most of us think we’re better than average drivers. If you do surveys, 90 percent of people will say “I’m a better than average driver”, which is mathematically impossible. And there’s just so much we don’t know about driving. We take it for granted that it’s very easy, but it’s just one of the most complex things we do.

IEN: You know, here are some of the things I found interesting. Most car accidents happen close to home. Usually the day is sunny, bright, one of those days that you wouldn’t think that an accident would happen.

VANDERBILT: Exactly. And some of that is because that’s just the most driving we do. We do most of our driving close to home. Most days are actually clear, and we drive more during the day.

But there’s another thing going on there that I think has been called “risk compensation”: we think it’s safe so we kind of let our guard down a little bit.

IEN: That’s right.

VANDERBILT: And studies have even shown that we pay less attention to traffic signs in our own neighbourhood then when we’re in a new place. So, we become a little bit too familiar, I think.

IEN: It makes sense, we’re cautious as we drive through new places. And how many of us really start to take off our seatbelts before we even drive into our driveway?

VANDERBILT: Exactly.

IEN: That kind of thing. Most people are killed legally crossing at crosswalks. More so than jaywalking. I was surprised by that.

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