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Letter: Step up police presence on the roads

rCMP car
RCMP vehicle

The Tuesday, Jan. 9th Telegram editorial “Move over” has prompted me once again to write about the appalling driving conditions in the northeast Avalon region. While failing to yield to emergency vehicles is certainly a serious problem, it is only the tip of the iceberg as far as the anarchy that, in my opinion, rules our roads.

On even a short drive one will see vehicles coasting through stop signs, speeding up at amber traffic signals, changing lanes and making turns without benefit of signals, pedestrians walking with their backs to oncoming traffic, jaywalking, exceeding the speed limit and driving too fast for conditions, talking and texting on cellphones, tailgating, driving with windows obscured by ice and snow, using so-called all season tires in winter … and on and on.

Radio, TV and newspaper articles and “public education campaigns” reach and influence only those people who hear, see and read them and who are reasonable, responsible people to begin with. The remainder, those who never consider that they are responsible for their actions behind the wheel and the consequences, continue to be a threat to everyone around them.

Let’s face it, no amount of preaching, cajoling or begging is going to make a difference to these people. It’s just human nature. So, let’s take the radical step of actually enforcing the laws and rules that already govern our daily commutes. In my opinion, it is self-evident that the best way to return safety and sanity to our roads is to put more police — both RNC and RCMP — on the roads with the mandate to target those who refuse to obey the law.

No, I’m not advocating a police state. I am simply pointing out that making rules, laws and bylaws is pointless if they are not enforced. I acknowledge that police have many serious offences to deal with: drug dealing, armed robberies and murder come to mind. What I am suggesting is that the carnage on our roads could be significantly reduced if the municipal and provincial governments insist that traffic enforcement be given a higher priority and, if necessary, more money to complete the task. We need more officers in more marked police cars writing more tickets until such time as the driving public comes to realize that if they fail to abide by the rules it’s going to cost them in both fines and, probably, increased insurance premiums. It is a fact of traffic law in this province that police can stop a vehicle at any time for any reason they see fit.

So, let’s see them start to do it. And if they need more officers and more cars, it is unarguably the responsibility of our elected officials to see that the dollars are provided. If others agree with this assessment it would be good to let your MHA and city councillor know how you feel.

Police state no, reasonable enforcement of existing laws and regulations yes. Who knows, we have only road rage to lose and we may even see vehicle insurance premiums actually drop someday.

Gary Hebbard
St. John’s

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