It’s hard to believe in this time of technology that we still require police officers to be vulnerable road users outside of their vehicles to flag over motorists for speed  transgressions on Canadian highways. Not only are they subject to being crashed into by the vehicle they are flagging down, they also may be hit by other  inattentive motorists.

I have written about how Switzerland has become the safest country in Europe on the roads by  regulating speed limits. In five years from 2001 to 2006 Swiss speed camera enforcement resulted in a fatality decrease of 15 percent per year, bringing road deaths from 71 annually down to 31. No need to have police flagging you down on the autoroute, a $330  ticket for driving 16 kilometres an hour over the speed limit  is in the mail.

The maximum travel speed is 120 km/h and it is rigidly enforced, making Swiss motorways the safest according to the European Transport Safety Council. Managing speed makes the roads easier to drive on, with consistent motorist behaviour and plenty of reaction time due to highway speed conformity.

A poll conducted by Mario Canseco  last year shows that 70 percent of  people in British Columbia are now supportive of the use of a camera system similar to the Swiss to enforce road speed limits in this province. While the Province has located 140 red light camera at intersections with high collision statistics, speed on highways does not have similar technology.

On the Thanksgiving weekend police forces across British Columbia announced a drive safely campaign, notifying that they would be out on highways  looking for anything that took away from safe highway driving. Anyone driving on highways from Abbotsford to Vancouver quickly saw the difference, with motorists staying to posted speed limits on highways.

But last month one  Delta Police Force member was nearly struck by a vehicle driver that was weaving in and out of traffic along a busy section of highway as the officer was outside of his vehicle attending to another stopped car.  That officer was nearly clipped and this was caught on a dash camera.

As reported by CTV News 

“The footage shows the driver speeding excessively and weaving through traffic while an unmarked police car has another driver pulled over. The police car had its red and blue flashing lights activated at the time, which means the driver should have slowed down and moved over.”

Sadly, the vehicle owner was only fined $368 for an action that could have led to a fatality. It’s one more reason why speed enforcement by automated cameras is simply the right thing to do, making roads safer and saving lives, health care costs and trauma. This approach also values the health and safety of  police officers to do work that does not expose them as vulnerable road users. It’s the 21st century, and time for technology to assist in changing driver behaviour for safer, speed regulated highways.


You can view the event as recorded here:

Image: Wrexham history.com


  1. You can see from the video that the shoulder is quite narrow.
    The same danger would apply to anyone pulled over to change a flat tire.
    Maybe there should be wider pull-out areas that provide safe areas.
    The Stanley Park causeway has them because there’s no shoulder (though those pullouts are still narrow) and some twisty windy hilly roads with poor sightlines (or single lanes) like the Sea to Sky Highway have them too.

  2. Driving is a complex activity at any time, and driving in traffic even more so. That’s why I’m always wary of claims that doing one thing will magically make roads safer. That’s especially true when looking at controlled access highways. I remain skeptical that any decline in Swiss road fatalities can be entirely or even primarily attributed to photo-radar.
    My biggest problem with photo-radar on highways is that is really doesn’t stop dangerous behaviour when it’s happening. Because the ticket only arrives days or weeks later there’s no connection between the action and the penalty. If someone is driving too fast, or weaving in and out of traffic, or just plain tailgating at highway speeds, I want them stopped now. Without the actual police car on the road to pull them over this doesn’t happen. The idiot driver just carries on his or her merry way until they either get home or kill someone.
    I know that I’ve said it before, but the prime example of this is the Upper Levels highway in North and West Vancouver. Until you’ve seen dump trucks pulling trailers tailgating passenger cars at highway speeds in the rain you can’t appreciate how much actual live enforcement is needed. Unfortunately the only time that you’ll see either the West Van police or the RCMP patrolling and ticketing is on nice sunny summer days.
    They will though hide at the intersection of Queens and 21st to nab people for using cel phones while driving.
    Photo-radar is a phenomenal tool for raising money, but it’s far from the best way to encourage responsible driving habits. What’s really needed is what happened with drunk driving – a significant shift in people’s attitudes towards impaired driving that made it just plain uncool and unacceptable. I’m not sure how you can do that, but if it worked once we should figure out why.
    (Rather than wasting time and money on photo-radar I’d prefer to see municipal speed limits lowered, more and better separated bike lanes and sidewalks, and improved transit to get people out of their cars entirely.

    EDITORS NOTE~Having driven extensively and with locals in Switzerland over the last few years the cameras have made a difference, as recorded in the data. From the moment you rent a car, cameras are everywhere, with speeds enforced universally on all highways, and at municipal boundaries capturing speed slowing down to locally adopted city speed limits. It is now a cultural thing. It works.

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