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Monday, March 26, 2012

Traffic Enforcement: Police deceive drivers under the banner of safety

Stories like the one about the Ottawa man who was caught doing 202 km/h in a 80 zone make the news frequently. It turned out later that the man was an off-duty cop. It only added fuel to the fire. I'm not quite sure why. I see cops in marked and unmarked police cars speeding all the time. Off-duty cops likely speed even more often, since they are less visible and they can get away with a lot, at least in their own jurisdictions.
This story was particularly interesting because of the angle most sources took. The first reports I heard on the radio mentioned that with the nice weather out come the speeders, hence a lot of people being caught. I think the main reason for more people getting caught is more speed traps being set up by the police. The cops are dry, warm and comfortable while doing their dirty work.
Toronto has been infested with police laser traps this spring. I usually see one or two on my short 25 km morning commute. While police boast about traffic safety, most traps are set up in areas where the natural safe speed chosen by most drivers is a little higher than the posted limit. Wide open, low speed limit stretches with excellent visibility and downhill roads are just about perfect.
One such example I witnessed last week was at the Dundas St W and Royal York Rd intersection. When you drive south on Royal York Road approaching Dundas, you go through a residential area and then an intersection with a shopping mall feeder road - admittedly a stretch where your should proceed with caution and drive slowly. Just as you pass the danger zone you go steeply downhill surrounded by the concrete walls of the Dundas Street overpass. With no interference from other traffic, drivers travel at around 60-80 km/h. As they get to the bottom of the hill most people drive at a speed higher than intended. You know the feeling; you know you're moving a tad too fast, but you don't really want to brake hard. Besides, you are surrounded by concrete, what could possibly happen? Well, a policeman with a laser gun waiting for you as you come up from under the overpass on the other side, that’s what.
Of course most of the pulled over people are not the dangerous drivers all of us detest, but regular commuter folks, maybe a little unfamiliar with the area and local speed trap locations. This officer certainly had safety in mind. Just look at the picture; a crosswalk, a bus stop, a turning lane, no-stopping and no-standing signs. Perfectly safe location to pull people over, block a lane and give a nasty surprise to drivers coming up from under the overpass with very limited visibility. Safety indeed.

1 comment:

  1. The ones that exceed the speed limit with less than 10 mph are not so dangerous comparing to others that exceed it with more than 50 mph...

    Last summer I received two speeding tickets Toronto but I dismissed one of them....with the help of a lawyer off course.
    What I hate is that some speed limits are very stupid and it's hard for drivers to respect them....