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LETTER: Slow down, buckle up and stash your phones

["Cpl. Darren Galley watches motorists on the Trans Canada Highway with the Cumberland District RCMP's new Speed Laser. The Northern Traffic Services section of the RCMP has been stopping speeding motorists on the highway since receiving the laser gun two weeks ago. Raissa Tetanish - Amherst Daily News"]
An RCMP officer clocks a vehicle's speed. — Telegram file photo

As we head into the remaining weeks of summer, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Newfoundland and Labrador (RCMP NL) reminds both residents and tourists alike of the need for safe driving practices. Respect posted speed limits, buckle up, avoid driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and put cell phones away while driving. 

The consequences of not doing so can be severe and life changing - too often, we see the tragic consequences of reckless driving on our province’s roads and highways.  

Up to this point in 2019, eleven people have been killed in vehicle crashes in RCMP jurisdiction in Newfoundland and Labrador.

One of the RCMP’s top priorities is road safety; our work every day is rooted in harm reduction by enforcing violations under the Highway Traffic Act and Criminal Code, while also educating the motoring public. 

We target speeding and/or aggressive driving, distracted driving, impaired driving and lack of seatbelt use to keep our roadways safe for everyone. Posted speed limits are meant to represent the maximum speed for ideal driving conditions on our highways. When conditions are not ideal, drivers are expected to modify their driving behaviour.

There are repercussions for exceeding posted speed limits. With respect to speed violations, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador introduced legislation in June of 2018, accompanied with increased fines, driving suspensions and vehicle seizures for those who drive aggressively, as well as increased fines for those who drive while distracted. RCMP NL has identified and ticketed just under 100 violators over the past year for speeds in excess of 51 kms/hr, which brings an automatic fine of $520, a seven-day licence suspension and a three-day seizure of the vehicle. 

Enforcement can also be less visible and yes, it is possible to drive the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH) and not see a police vehicle. 

RCMP NL’s efforts to combat impaired driving are ongoing. Thus far in 2019, we have charged almost 160 people for impaired driving offences.

Enforcement can be very visible, when motorists see other vehicles pulled over by police or when checkpoints are conducted at various locations across the province by the RCMP and our partners, including the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and Provincial Highway Enforcement Officers, all sharing the same goals to promote road safety and to enforce the Highway Traffic Act. 

Enforcement can also be less visible and yes, it is possible to drive the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH) and not see a police vehicle. 

One could encounter an unmarked police vehicle and not be aware of it.

As well, our police officers strategically place themselves off the sides of the highway and may not be visible to passing motorists.  

Keep in mind, too, that travel on the TCH in any particular area is really a snapshot in time.

Enforcement action may have taken place in an area just minutes before or will take place minutes after, or officers may be en route to the highway after responding to a call for service or conducting enforcement on a nearby secondary roadway, which is also a responsibility of the RCMP in this province.

Inevitably, there will always be the need for a police presence on our highways and the RCMP will continue to provide that presence in an effort to enforce, educate and save lives.  Should you be travelling the province’s highways or any road and witness aggressive or irregular driving behaviour or suspect someone may be driving while impaired, please pull over and call your local police or 911.  

Reporting the direction of travel, make, model and colour of the vehicle, as well as the licence plate number, if possible, will assist police in apprehending violators and help keep our roads safe.

Enjoy the rest of this summer and drive safely.

Sgt. Joe Collett

RCMP NL Traffic Services

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