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With new officer at helm, Ridge RCMP step up traffic enforcement

RCMP at the scene of a fatal accident on Lougheed Highway near Kennedy Way. The intersection is one of seven which Ridge Meadows
RCMP at the scene of a fatal accident on Lougheed Highway near Kennedy Way. The intersection is one of seven which Ridge Meadows'traffic section will focus on.
— image credit: The News/Files

According to the latest census date, Maple Ridge motorists have the longest commute in Metro Vancouver, stuck in their cars for an average of 35 minutes a day.

It’s no wonder road rage is on the rise and drivers are increasingly disobeying road rules, leading to crashes across the district.

“Our prime mandate is crash reduction,” said Sgt. Bruce McCowan, the new officer at the helm of Ridge Meadows RCMP’s traffic section.

“Our traffic service officers have already determined the three main causes of these crashes. They are disobeying traffic lights, speeding and failing to yield.”

McCowan and his team of six officers plan on targeting seven intersections along Lougheed Highway at Kanaka Way (232nd St.), Dewdney Trunk Road (200th Street, 203rd St. 216th St., 207th St., Harris Rd. and Kennedy Rd.

According to ICBC statistics, the worst of the seven - Lougheed Hwy. and Kanaka Way saw 87 crashes in 2012, up from 62 in 2011.

An analyst and accident reconstructionist who has trained and taught all over North America, McCowan intends to use his expertise to reduce crashes in these locations.

He already commissioned the volunteer-run Speed Watch program to do a study along Lougheed Hwy. to Kanaka Way and their data found many motorist driving much faster than the posted speed limit of 50 km/hr.

“In some cases, [the speeds] were quite significant,” said Const. Mike Moore, who’ll be leading the team’s education campaign.

Besides ticketing drivers, McCowan is open to creative ways of catching folk who break the rules. It could mean officers go undercover, increase their visibility at the intersections and set up road blocks to issues warnings.

“I’m willing to try anything,” said McCowan, pointing to Victoria police who stuck an officer on a transit bus to catch people using cell phones or playing with iPods while driving.

“Fewer crashes mean less injuries and deaths on our roads.”

Focusing on intersection won’t mean a drop in other enforcement though. Officers will still be targeting drunk and distracted drivers but also focus on school zones and other traffic violations.

The traffic unit will also station officers in high crime areas as studies show the approach can put a dent in crime. McCowan will also be working with municipal engineers to tweak traffic lights and improve the design at problem intersections.

 

139,000 to help make Maple Ridge’s roads safer

Roundabouts, new crosswalks and designated turning lanes are the types of road improvement projects ICBC invested in B.C. last year to help make roads safer for everyone, including pedestrians and cyclists.

In 2013, ICBC invested approximately $139,000 in road improvement projects  in Maple Ridge.

“These enhancements will make our transportation routes safer, which is always a good  investment for our community,” said Marc Dalton, MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission.

ICBC launched its road improvement program in 1990, and since then has invested  approximately $120 million in road improvement projects and safety studies across B.C. In  2013, ICBC invested approximately $4.3 million in the Lower Mainland and $8 million in

projects and safety audits across the province.

“Everyone benefits from road improvements – from drivers to pedestrians – because safer roads mean fewer crashes, which also translates into lower claim costs,” said John Dickinson, ICBC’s director of road safety. “We’ll continue to invest in road safety initiatives that help us keep rates as low as possible.”

 

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