how tough was testing for your driver’s certification?

There is a certification scheme for one of the top killers in North America. It’s called a driver’s license. The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia states on their website: “Not only are new drivers more prone to crash, one in four of their crashes result in an injury or fatality.”

Furthermore, there are best practices, benchmarks, guidelines, frameworks and even laws suggesting drinking alcohol and driving are not the best combination – yet in Canada approximately 35% of car crash deaths are alcohol related.

What is a speed limit?

It’s like a “best practice” for the road conditions presented – for example lots of little kids running around on their way to and from school – maybe 30 km/hr would be the best practice for these areas. Trans Canada open highway across the prairies – well – speed limits are more like a target benchmark and as most of us assume we’re allowed a little leeway either way. Often 10% to 15% – if the speed limit is 100 km/hr generally cops will give you 110 km/hr or maybe even 115 km/hr.

Once you have your driver’s certification – you have to work very hard to lose it – unless you are caught driving drunk or you’re caught over the benchmarks and best practices on many occassions. (but then hire a good lawyer and maybe you get away clean…)

With all of the benchmarks, best practices, and laws – do people still speed? Do people still drive drunk?

Is there any further testing – say every five years after you first get your license? No. Well not at least not until you are a much more seasoned driver.

I carry a little card that suggests I am certified to drive; however,  my test to get that certification was pretty darn lax. My driving test was done on Haida Gwaii – islands six hours by ferry off the coast of British Columbia. The driver’s test examiner would come about once every six weeks from the mainland and we had to book well in advance.

For my test, we drove around looking for a spot to try and “parallel park” the dreaded test within the test. We used a telephone pole (as a pretend car)  and the only car parked on the side of the road for about a kilometre each way. Funnily enough, he tested me on my reversing skills in the exact same spot: “ok… you’ve parallel parked, now back up about 30 metres…”

I think the only thing I lost points on during the test was using my palm for a big turn instead of hand over hand… I didn’t tell the examiner that my brother and I used to “drive” our 1950s Ford pickup around our field when we were kids. My brother would steer and I would be on the floor on the pedals…. I think only the “go” pedal worked anyways.

Within a few months of getting my driver’s license ( I was 19)  I was driving into downtown Vancouver along the Trans Canada highway; within less than a year I had bought my own truck. Do you think other drivers  felt safe, knowing I was certified? Do you feel safe when you see a car with a little green “N” blow by you on the freeway with the young driver texting on their cell phone? (not to say there aren’t some good young drivers out there)

Of course, things have changed a little since I received my license, however I don’t know if the testing is still much different back where I grew up – but at least there’s “graduated licensing” in British Columbia now.

That’s kind of like a “conditional” license. Does that make it safer, or better?

And thus, to draw my analogy…. Does “ecocertification” and “ecolabelling” actually mean that something is actually “eco” – i.e sustainable?

Do you feel much better filling up at a Husky gas station (or is it Mohawk): “Mother Nature’s station”?

When I see a product on the shelf, or in the freezer with a little sticker or logo am I going to reach for it over the product without?

In the case of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) – probably not now after doing some consumer research – however, many folks may very well. Kind of like the pragmatic folks who buy Volvo’s based on their safety claims – yet if you’re a crappy driver, the safest vehicle ain’t going to help you much in a meeting with a telephone pole, or another vehicle.

Unfortunately, the history of Fisheries and Oceans the “driver” of fisheries management in Canada – their driving record ain’t all that good (they kind of had a head on with North Atlantic cod…. and the cod lost). It was a serious case of drinking and driving (and they certainly didn’t have an airbag – oh wait, who was the Minister of Fisheries then?) – and yet they weren’t sent to mandatory counseling, or testing, or even rebuked by a judge. They just said “gee… we don’t do it like that anymore…”.

And in the case of the MSC – sure they’ve got Fisheries and Oceans on a “graduated” conditional certification scheme for BC sockeye fisheries – some 40 conditions and a “five year action plan”. But similar to driver’s; once you’re certified, it’s pretty damn tough to lose your certification – even if the testing for your certification was pretty lax and maybe even conducted with gaping voids like not having to really parallel park.

With MSC – I don’t think anyone has lost their eco-license in the organization’s ten year eco-history.

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