The Sault Ste. Marie Police Services recently completed a Traffic Enforcement Initiative in order to improve road safety in our community. This project came about as a result of an increase in collisions (200 more from 2016 to 2017) and a double in motor vehicle collision fatalities (from 2 to 4) during the same period. The initiative ran from February 12th to May 29th, and was successful in decreasing collisions.
Five officers were deployed full-time to do traffic enforcement, their shifts coinciding with the prime collision times (Monday to Friday 9am-6pm).
Three officers were sent to be qualified on the detachment of commercial vehicles (anything that carries a load) so that they could properly inspect commercial vehicles to ensure their safety.
Sargent Ray Magnan and Constable Sonny Spina shared the details of these results and some of the most common traffic infractions that have been noted through the initiative.
They key issue, or outstanding problem, was most definitely the intersection at Albert and Gore. Sgt. Magnan described this as his biggest concern, as many collisions were happening there following the removal of traffic lights. In regards to that specific intersection, 0 collisions have occurred there in the last two months.
In addition to intersection issues, Magnan outlined the other major problem as being improper towing of trailers. “We received a number of traffic complaints about trailers being towed around the city that appear to be overloaded, from citizens, from other commercial drivers, and from people who were having debris fall out of trucks in front of their house or on the road. They were asking us to do something about it.”
The statistics from the program are as follows;
- 94 distracted driving infractions
- 173 speeding infractions
- 75 seatbelt infractions
- 215 intersection-related infractions (Includes running red lights, stop signs, rolling through)
- 279 permits and validation-related tickets (Expired stickers, not having the right stickers Magnan stated that “a lot of people were not in compliance because they didn’t have their inspection certificate, but having that would have prevented alot of other issues.”)
- 180 commercial motor vehicles (anything that is not a passenger vehicle)
- 94 suspended drivers caught (This is the direct result of the new automatic license plate reader)
- 69 charges requiring provincial court appearance (Most common is from driving without insurance)
- 67 other criminal code charges
- 391 warnings were given
- 223 charges laid regarding different sections of the Highway Traffic Act (including insecure load, overweight vehicles, improper brakes, defective brakes, defective tires, wrong or lack of permit to drive a commercial vehicle, failure to provide inspection schedule on a commercial vehicle, improper trailer breaks).
The Sault Police also stressed that the law has not changed, but many people were not getting ticketed before so they were getting away with it and becoming lax about their standards. When asked why so many people were not compliant, Magnan said “I asked some people and they said, ‘oh yeah we used to have our stickers years ago but we stopped getting tickets’ and others who said they just ‘didn’t think they needed it.'” He continued, “However, while some people didn’t know, there is no excuse for having no brakes or defective brakes or tires and the onus is on you to know the law.”
Spina and Magnan both emphasized that since this initiative, word of mouth has spread and more and more people and dealers are becoming aware of and concerned about requirements on commercial vehicles for road safety, which should ultimately help to deter tickets, fines, and tragic accidents in the future.
Magnan recommends those who are uncertain about the requirements to visit the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) to find out whether they are in compliance and, if not, what they need to do.
Moving forward, the Sault Police are planing to keep two officers on traffic enforcement, and other officers will be assigned to it, just not on a full-time basis. The plan is to have a patrol again in the fall doing concentrated enforcement, focusing on specific common complaints.