Alberta’s law enforcement descended on the province’s busiest roads over the Heritage Day long weekend. In total, officers issued 5,140 traffic tickets, nearly 200 fewer than were issued over the Victoria Day weekend in May — usually the busiest for traffic offenses.
RCMP traffic services co-ordinator Staff Sgt. Jamie Johnston says he is surprised at the increase in traffic on Highway 63, where officers issued 665 speeding tickets, and the speed of some of the worst offenders.
“We had a motorcycle clocked at 190 kilometres an hour.... In this case he was observed by a number of police officers, but they of course didn’t pursue at that speed. And the park wardens noticed the vehicle stopped. So they gave us a heads up and we managed to interdict the operator once they stopped,” says Johnston.
Johnston also says it is clear Albertans are changing driving habits, specifically noting an increase in seatbelt use.
“We’re seeing in some areas of Alberta as much as a 95 per cent [seatbelt] compliance rate, which is fantastic. That’s the single most effective tool for preventing death and injury in a collision event,” he says.
While drivers are improving in some aspects, violations have increased in others, namely distracted driving and drug impairment. Johnston says the increase in the number of Albertans driving while high is observable both in how many stoned people police have pulled over, and in coroner’s statistics.
“They test all of the dead drivers involved in fatal collisions, and the percentage of drivers that have tested positive for drug use has increased,” Johnston says.