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Wednesday, 04 September 2013 14:05

Law breakers means enforcement officers kept busy

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It's a sinking feeling: you get your mail and there’s a photo radar ticket from the local police department or worse, the feeling of watching as the red and blue lights of a law enforcement vehicle screams in behind you signalling you to pull over due to the fact there’s a high rate of speed or the vehicle sports a non-functioning tail light.

Many of us have been there.
As you curse the money-grabbing police and their underhanded tactics  such as hidden photo radar, the recently-deployed eye-in-the-sky Alberta RCMP helicopter and speed traps which always seem to be at the bottom of hills or if you can believe it school zones (can you believe those law enforcement meanies want to protect children?) — you wonder why the police do it other than to make easy money for the government, right?
The fact of the matter is, these agencies such as Saskatchewan or Alberta RCMP or local police forces wouldn’t be doing these things if people weren’t breaking the law and they are  — in droves.
In discussions with Sgt. Stacey Kesler, who works in the traffic division of the Medicine Hat Police service, police are trying to become more visible so drivers stop breaking traffic laws.
He said the days of police hiding behind bushes to nab people are over. It’s not all about nailing as many people as possible in order to meet some quota.
Lives need to be saved and spared from injury.
Kesler says in Medicine Hat, police want to be as visible as possible on the highways entering the city so people get the message.
The more drivers know the police will be there, the more they will slow down and obey the laws.
Frequent drivers travelling through Medicine Hat have probably noticed the amount of police sitting on the highway in recent months.
If that’s the case, Kesler is pleased. It means the high visibility tactics are working.
He cites one example of where in Medicine Hat, drivers are being forced to slow down. At the city entrance at Dunmore Road, at the first set of traffic lights coming in from the east on the Trans-Canada Highway. Motorists have to slow down due to construction of an overpass there, and there is a designed increased level of police enforcement of the area. The stretch of road went from one of the worst areas in the city for the number of accidents to one of the lowest. That's a dramatic drop. It’s not a coincidence that the lower speed limits with the high police visibility has lessened the chances for accidents.
The scary part is there are drivers who are putting others at risk with wreckless behaviour.
Examples from across Alberta:
• Aug. 26 — a male on a motorcycle was stopped on Highway 40 after being observed travelling at 184 km per hour in a 100 zone;
• On the May long weekend — 3,843 drivers were giving speeding tickets across Alberta including 67 going at least 50 km over the limit. In total, including distracted driving and impaired driving infractions, there were 5,039 tickets/arrests. During that May long weekend, Integrated Traffic Unit officers on southbound Highway 2 near the Highway 72 (Crossfield) overpass interdicted a vehicle traveling at 187 km/hr on the posted 110 km/hr highway. When the vehicle stopped for officers, the driver was identified as a 15-year-old female who did not have a driver’s licence.
• April 6 —  a male was clocked by an Alberta Sheriff speeding north of High River on Highway 2 at 214 km/h. The 31-year-old was charged with impaired driving, driving while over .08, dangerous driving, and transporting open liquor. Eleven days later, a man was stop doing 192 km/hr in a 110-zone and a woman was doing 191.
 We could go on and on. The cases are mindboggling. It’s simple. Want to stop the tickets? Stop speeding. Stop blatantly talking on a cell phone. While it’s easy to say handing out tickets is purely a cash cow, if drivers weren’t doing anything wrong —there would be no tickets to hand out.
No one is perfect, but if we all try a little harder, perhaps there will be fewer chances that we will be cursing seeing the bright red and blue lights flashing behind us or getting a nasty reminder in the mail about some driving indiscretion.
Ryan Dahlman is managing editor with the Prairie Post. Contact him with your comments about this opinion piece by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor