More traffic enforcement needed

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In reference to the “Mean streets” editorial on Jan. 16 and all prior comments in the past concerning unsafe habits of drivers in St. John’s, it’s time to act now — and that means more enforcement.

Yes, during the winter months we are more at risk, because sidewalks aren’t cleared, and also some pedestrians foolishly walk with their backs to the traffic.

Snow removal from sidewalks creates a high cost to taxpayers, but also the additional expense to cover sanding and salting to prevent slips and falls causing injury and the potential liability in the courts. Maybe the city politicians are in a catch-22 situation?

Whether it’s winter or summer, drivers in this province just don’t get it, which means they are basically in a fog, concerned only about themselves, work and social life.

Driving is only a means of transportation — no awareness, just arriving to that destination, nothing else.

We are all guilty of speeding, failure to give adequate time for turn signals, not yielding to pedestrians, not making proper lane changes and other infractions.

Isn’t it time for us to slow down and think of proper driving techniques?

Driver education starts with the young driver properly trained; however, adequate enforcement is the key to remind us daily of our responsibility and the consequences while on the road.

I witnessed my daughter, while driving in Alberta, that she had two fingers on the steering wheel and I immediately remarked about her chances to react in an emergency. Months later she struck a deer. Luckily she wasn’t injured by losing control of her vehicle. Both hands on the steering wheel — how many of us actually drive that way?

Another family member was stopped at a construction zone on the Pitts Memorial Drive, east of Mount Pearl, and was rear-ended by a vehicle travelling in excess of 100 miles per hour.

The driver told the fireman at the scene, “I didn’t realize I never had enough time to stop.”

Our minds are elsewhere, which could end the lives of others, including our families and friends who are seated beside us or behind us.

Over the past five years, I have had the opportunity to visit Whitecourt, Alta., many times and it has become apparent that the majority of drivers are very aware of their responsibilities when behind the wheel.

In winter, the roads are always snow covered and slippery, but the drivers proceed with caution and respect other drivers and pedestrians.

The other months are no different; the drivers are still by and large focused on good driving habits. It begs the question — why?

My observation was that in addition to the local RCMP members, the province hired sheriffs to enforce traffic infractions, along with photo-radar trucks and vans positioned at various sites. There is additional signage pertaining to photo-radar enforcement for public awareness.

This additional policing of the highways and streets in the communities,

in my view, decreases accidents, tragedies and insurance claims, and reinforces the education of drivers in general. Along with that, the RCMP or the local police forces can concentrate on the crimes, investigations and enforcement of the Criminal Code and provincial statutes.

The suffering and expense have gone on far too long and it’s time to act responsibly.

The Telegram, through its editors and journalists, also television and radio media, have done their part in the exercise to inform the public of the dangerous mistakes we make on the road, but to no avail.

Responsibility now rests with the elected government and taxpayers to make our streets less mean.

 

Kevin Gover lives on the Salmonier Line.

 

 

 

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  • david
    January 22, 2013 - 11:57

    Based on the snapshot form the news, I'd bet that an alarmingly high proportion of people behind the wheel across Newfoundland at any time are loaded drunk...not much point worrying about driver skill or education if you can't even convince them to sober up first. But hey, those darn moose...!

  • Chavy
    January 22, 2013 - 11:35

    Every police who is worth their paycheck will tell you that their enforcement is the LAST MEASURE to help "make the streets less mean" as you've put it. Your solution doesn't do anything. Statistics from England have shown no real benefits of photo radar. One year accidents in photo radar zones are down, another year they're up. They have no impact other then further lining the pockets of the government (ticket income) and insurance companies (raised premiums). Secondly, speed, which photo radar enforces, is not the problem. It's lack of driving education and appreciation. Statistically there are more accidents causing over $1000 in damage or severe bodily injury from people failing to indicate then there are for those "speeding". Running stop signs, improper lane changes (such as people turning left and veering into the right hand lane at an intersection and hitting someone) also are responsible for more accidents then speed. None of which more enforcement will properly combat. Speed is subjective. Maybe it's pouring down rain on the highway. In your opinion, your max speed might be 70km/h. That's all you feel you can do. Someone "blows" past you doing 100km/h, the speed limit, and you judge them. "Geez, buddy's gonna be dead soon" you'll probably say to yourself. Meanwhile, you're the one driving a car that wouldn't pass an inspection and tires as bald as an eagle. All because of lack of driver education and appreciation. You're the one most likely to be in an accident. Photo radar IS NEVER the answer, education is. In your story, you even say as much -- counter to your overall point of more enforcement. You visited Alberta where both radar detectors are LEGAL (unlike here btw) and photo radar exists. You say how everyone is "very aware of their responsibilities when behind the wheel". You have a disconnect here. More traffic enforcement doesn't educate people. People don't learn right and wrong by being punished for it, they learn it by being taught and not simply being given a license after having a permit for 12 months and passing a rather simple driving test. Why not make young drivers mandatory and install varied license levels. You would need to pass separate tests in order to drive on low roads but also high roads, such as the ORR and TCH. If you don't pass your high road test, you do not have a permit to drive on the highways. Of note, Newfoundland is one of the few places that doesn't have a skid pad to teach young drivers the perils of driving in the wet. THIS training would prevent thousands of accidents and deaths. Most NL drivers get their license and drive in the wet for the first time on cars with poor maintenance history and no wet training. No understanding of what it truly feels like to hydroplane. Sure some will argue with these additional levels they need to pass to get their full license, but if they have such a problem passing those tests and getting through Young Drivers, they shouldn't be on the road. Oh... and why doesn't the RNC ever put a man or woman, plain clothes, on a corner downtown watching people on their cell phone as they drive by and radioing ahead to marked cars to pull them over and give them tickets? You want to stop cell phone usage in cars, that's how you do it. Guess it's a lot easier to put a single car on the ORR for 20 minutes and scoop up as many customers as they can then it is to run a proper operation involving several men and women.