RCMP steps up efforts to make highways safer
RCMP Sergeant Randy Pack really loves his job, but hopes he’ll never have to use any of his skills. Pack, a Traffic Services Reconstruction Program Manager, analyzes information gathered at collision scenes. To help the officier with his duties, last Wednesday (Oct, 14) the provincial RCMP Traffic Services and the Whitbourne RCMP detachment officially opened a Traffic Services Reconstruction Program Manager’s office at the Trinity - Placentia RCMP headquarters in Whitbourne. However Pack has been at the detachment in his new role since last spring.
“It’s all about improving the safety conditions of our highways and keeping people alive and well,” he says.
The well known safety-oriented RCMP officer, shows up at collision scenes to determine the cause of the crash.
His duties as a lead collision analyst also includes assisting and guiding other analysts with ongoing analyst investigations, reviewing their reports and coordinating the necessary training to ensure ongoing (collision analyst) development and a properly equipped/training program.
“There are eight RCMP collision analysts and reconstructionists posted in areas such as Clarenville, Stephenville, Grand Falls, Holyrood, Deer Lake and Whitbourne,” says Pack. “Collision investigation is an integral part of what we do. Not only do we attempt to provide answers as to what happened in specific collisions, we also look for patterns and trends that, if addressed, can make our highways safer.”
Along with sorting through the details of a collision scene, RCMP analysts and reconstructionists are also trained in scene measurement.
“This provides us with a lot of information such as how fast a vehicle was travelling which assists us in deciding whether or not any violation was committed and if charges should be laid,” explains Pack. “We also check the conditions of the road for any signage defects, carry out data analyses and compile a technical report on what we found.”
Collision analysts and reconstructionists also know how to interpret information found in electronic devices contained in the airbags of some vehicles. These electronic devices, also known to investigators as crash data retrieval systems or sensing diagnostic modules, record pre and post crash electronic data much the same as an airplane’s black box. Investigators use specialized software to retrieve data from the device.
“This data can tell us the vehicle speed, engine RPM (revolutions per minute), seatbelt usage and much more,” says Pack. “It could also help us figure out whether or not there was a problem with the vehicle such as a defect in the manufacturing.”
So far this year there have been 21 fatalities caused by car collisions across the province.
Pack also uses his expertise as a Traffic Services Reconstruction Program Manager, to determine if a person has been driving recklessly or while drunk.
Meanwhile over the Thanksgiving weekend RCMP conducted Operation Impact — an initiative to increase public compliance with safe driving measures.
While there were no fatal collisions the RCMP had to deal with a lot of aggressive drivers. Between Friday Oct. 9 and Monday Oct. 12 they handed out 747 tickets for infractions such as speeding and lane violations, arrested seven impaired drivers and issued eight 24-hour roadside suspensions. Another 176 highway traffic tickets were handed out for violations, which included driving an unregistered or unsafe vehicle.
Highway patrol officers wrote up nearly 1,100 tickets during the four-day period.
RCMP say they’ve been making an effort to increase patrols in rural areas like they did over the Thanksgiving weekend because statistics show there’s an average of 32 deaths and 99 serious injuries a year from collisions on rural roads in Newfoundland and Labrador.