Drivers can expect additional enforcement and fines after an operation by RCMP traffic services found they often ignore speed restrictions designed to save workers’ lives.
More than 250 motorists face charges after a crackdown on Friday by 14 traffic officers from Kamloops, Clearwater, Ashcroft and Merritt, along with four officers from Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement.
Officers could not keep up with violators; they couldn’t stop them or write tickets fast enough. They were, however, able to tally the speeders who zipped past without regard or penalty: 1,090.
As a result, police say they will be out again
The one-day enforcement operation was held on the Yellowhead Highway between Kamloops and Heffley Creek, the East Trans-Canada Highway, Coquihalla Highway between Kamloops and Merritt, and on Highway 97C between Merritt and Kelowna.
Five drivers had their vehicles impounded and must pay a $368 fine.
Other penalties handed out include:
* 102 tickets ($173 fine) for failing to slow down for an official vehicle.
* 53 tickets ($173) for failing to move over.
* 14 tickets ($138) for going 20 km/h over the posted limit.
Four years ago the province enacted Slow Down, Move Over legislation after a Vernon tow-truck driver was killed in a highway construction zone in 2006. He was one of too many. Between 2001 and 2007, a dozen emergency workers were injured or killed on the roadside.
Statistics illustrate the heightened risks in speed zones: A pedestrian struck at 30 km/h has a 90 per cent chance of surviving. At 50 km/h, that same pedestrian has an 80 per cent chance of dying.
A variety of groups, including the fire chiefs’ association, B.C. Ambulance Service, BCGEU, the towing industry and BCAA backed the harsher penalties in hopes of seeing a change in driver behaviour.
“That is a big concern or ours,” said Jeff Bell, acting assistant fire chief, noting that all crew members undergo traffic safety training. The risk at motor vehicle accidents is increased by poor weather and darker conditions during winter.
“We try to put out as many high-visibility signs as we can, but a lot of people don’t slow down or they come too close to where you’re working.”
Sheldon Guertin, another KFR firefighter, recalled a close call on the Coquihalla Highway. A Merritt firefighter was injured only recently when he was hit while responding to a roadside emergency.
“We actually had one (passing vehicle) that forced us to jump over the no-post,” he said. “He was within inches of getting us.”
He suspects speeders are often inattentive and fail to notice flashing emergency lights, reflectors and flares.
Friday’s operation also resulted in a drug seizure and a $598 fine for another driver who had no insurance.