Recently I was cruising down Meadowlands Drive in Ottawa where the speed limit is a paltry 40 km/h. There I happened upon an immaculate but slow-moving Toyota Camry, the cleanest and slowest car on the road. Sorry, but I sized up the driver as a Senior right away.
Characteristically hunched over the wheel, he was driving at precisely 40 km/h.
Not 41 km/h, mind you; and not 39. Forty. Because that’s the limit, don’t you know?
Obediently falling in behind the Camry, I realized I was there for the duration. For obvious reasons it was difficult to pass in this area, what with the school zones, kiddies, tiny dogs, pedestrian crossings and all. It must be said, though, that normally this doesn’t stop the majority of drivers blasting through at 60 km/h plus.
Anyway, Q had started on CBC Radio One so I quickly switched to Classic Vinyl on the satellite, took a look in the rear view mirror and realized there were now 20-odd vehicles behind me, all of us trundling along at the same restrained (constrained…) pace.
It’s amazing the impact one guy has, I thought, eyeing my phone and resisting the temptation.
Camry-guy was like some kind of self-appointed road safety enforcement officer, I mused. And he had real power. Look how we were all forced to drive responsibly through the school zone. Those kids have never been safer, I thought.
Which got me thinking more. What if this power could be harnessed? What if it could be managed and actually deployed? What if this was an opportunity!
After all, this is – as we currently say — excess capacity, right? Boomers with nothing much to do, driving around slowly.
Right under our noses, here may be the perfect way to control speed across the country. Who needs adaptive cruise control, autonomous braking, speed traps or photo-radar when you have a surplus of recently retired boomers out there on the road right now, running important errands like buying obsolete lamp parts at Home Hardware?
“You don’t have 3/8-inch brass finials? No problem, I’ll try Canadian Tire.” And off they go. They’re oblivious, right? Okay, to be fair, they are on a mission (of sorts) but let’s at least agree that they’re underutilized.
Why not put this excess capacity to work? After all, what we have is a huge demographic of under-occupied and under-utilized boomers; they’re travelling all over the place from one store to another in search of important items required for various projects at home which they forget when they return. But that’s not the point. The point is, they’re not in much of a hurry and many of them delight (rather devilishly, it must be admitted) in setting the pace wherever they go.
So here’s the plan (we’re getting to the BIG IDEA here…): we give them a certificate and a hat that actually designates them as Road Safety Enforcement Officers (RSEOs) and perhaps in cooperation with Uber who’ll develop a clever app (they could use some good PR these days…), we let them loose in high collision areas. There they simply go driving in their car-car, at the posted speed limit. It’s what they do anyway, yes? It’s just that they may need to visit a different Home Depot or Tim’s, but that puts a little variety in their lives so it’s all good, right?
Plus they could even pick up a few fares if they were feeling sociable (and the fare wasn’t in a hurry). Heck, in their off-time they could use the app to give visitors leisurely tours around your city, thus spreading their influence even more widely. They’d be in the sharing economy!
I can see thousands of diligent boomers out there, keeping the speed, so to speak.
“Are you going out again, Albert?”
“Yes, Edith, just picking up a flat-head 6-32 machine screw at the hardware, then I’m RSEO on Main Street for an hour. School will be out, you know.”
I tell you, I think I have something here.