Lasers trouble for motorists

Andrew
Andrew Robinson
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Local security company owner says device distracts drivers when misused

On Wednesday, The Telegram told the story of how laser pointers are proving to be a nuisance for aircraft.

According to the owner of a security company in St. John’s who previously worked in law enforcement in Alberta, the safety risks posed by such devices are not limited to airline pilots.

“I don’t think (laser pointers) should be in the general public,” said Justin Crocker.

The current owner of SecuraCon Security dealt with complaints from drivers in Alberta distracted by people in other vehicles using a laser pointer.

“It’s pretty distracting, and it can almost cause an accident,” he said.

According to a Government of Canada website, flash blindness caused by split-second contact with a laser has no long-term effects. However, if a beam is reflected off a surface such as a mirror, exposure for even a fraction of a second can cause permanent eye damage and burn skin.

For airline pilots, laser pointers have the potential to temporarily blind or distract them if a beam of light reaches the cockpit. As reported in The Telegram Wednesday, three separate flights arriving at St. John’s International Airport last month reported being illuminated by light.

Rising occurences

According to Transport Canada, reported incidents involving lasers and aircraft in Canada from 2009 to 2013 increased 410 per cent — from 108 in 2009 to 443 last year. The vast majority of those incidents were reported in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. In Newfoundland and Labrador, only four incidents were reported over the same five-year period.

Crocker has witnessed people at arenas use a laser pointer to target hockey players from visiting teams.

“Even in sports arenas, I’ve seen security have to remove people because they’re trying to get the goalie off their game or players off their game or just trying to make a distraction themselves.”

In the case of drivers, Crocker can recall cases in Alberta where people provided statements to police concerning the misuse of laser pointers that resulted in criminal charges being laid.

arobinson@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Organizations: International Airport, Transport Canada

Geographic location: Alberta, Canada, Ontario Quebec British Columbia Newfoundland and Labrador

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