Police take to the air for speed enforcement
In an effort to crack down on speeders and other highway scofflaws, local enforcment agencies are taking to the air.
On the July 28-29 weekend, RCMP used a helicopter above the Trans-Canada Highway to assist with the issuing of 96 speeding tickets, seven tickets for following too close, one drug seizure and a 24-hour suspension.
The use of aircraft, both planes and helicopters, for highway enforcement will be on the increase, said Cpl. Chris Blandford of the Bow Valley Integrated Traffic Unit, “for the rest of this summer and more next year.”
Blandford is the provincial coordinator for the air-assist effort. Coordinators will be in place in each region of the province to ensure adequate air coverage.
“And the plan is to have a much larger presence in the national park and areas leading into the national park.”
In the Bow Valley, lines have been painted on the TCH in certain areas. The lines allow airborne watchers to time vehicles, estimate their speed and watch for unsafe driving behaviours like tailgating, ill-timed lane changes and other suspect behaviour. Reports are then radioed ahead to waiting RCMP and provincial sheriff enforcement vehicles.
“Cochrane and the Bow Valley traffic unit have kind of carried the ball to this point,” said Blandford. “After Highway 63 (a multiple vehicle crash where seven were killed) there’s been a big push on this. We’ll mostly be using RCMP helicopters, with maybe some private aircraft companies being used.
“Parks has been very agreeable to putting zones in west of Banff and near Lake Louise.”
On the Canada Day long weekend in the Bow Valley, maniac drivers included a B.C. man who pushed his Dodge Charger to 203 km/h in the Parks’ 90 km/h zone during a time where traffic was “highly congested” on the TCH. On the same weekend, a Saskatchewan driver in a Camaro convertible caused a three vehicle crash near Lac des Arcs by passing a vehicle on the left-hand shoulder and colliding with it, which sent it into a third vehicle. Nobody was killed but two people in the Camaro were airlifted to hospital after the car rolled into the ditch.
“Our bosses in Edmonton are extremely supportive of this initiative,” said Blandford.
On the Heritage Day long weekend, an Edmonton motorcycle rider was clocked at 190 km/h on Highway 93 North.
After combined efforts among Banff Warden Services and Banff and Lake Louise RCMP detachments, the rider faces charges of dangerous driving, flight from police officers and operating a motor vehicle with improper class of licence.
The operator of the motorcycle refused to stop for a member of the Bow Valley Integrated Traffic Unit, but a couple of hours later he was spotted by a Banff warden who called for the assistance of RCMP. The operator of the motorcycle was arrested and released for a court date in October.
In addition, 48 motorists earned trips to court for travelling 50 km/h or greater in the Bow Valley Region. The five highest speeds recorded in Banff National Park this past weekend were 190, 180, 179 and two at 176 km/h. As well, two drivers were ticketed with speeding at 139 and 136 km/h in 60 km/h zones.
The Bow Valley Integrated Traffic Unit will continue to combat speeding and other aggressive and potentially dangerous driving behaviours.
On the Heritage Day weekend, 615 motorists were stopped for speeding and a total of 641 charges were laid. This is an increase of 128 charges when compared to the Canada Day long weekend.
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