Stunt­ing is more preva­lent

Po­lice take ac­tion to cut down on car­nage with 2018 Op­er­a­tion Im­pact

Sackville Tribune - - TANTRAMAR -

The study de­fines th­ese driv­ers as “driv­ing at speeds be­yond posted le­gal lim­its or driv­ing too fast for road con­di­tions and driver be­hav­iours which are deemed il­le­gal or out­side so­cially ac­cept­able norms which put other road users at risk.”

Tops, a driv­ing in­struc­tor by trade who has taught mo­tor­cy­cle safety since the 1990s, rec­og­nizes the role age and lack of ex­pe­ri­ence can play in such ac­ci­dents.

He doesn’t feel it was a fac­tor when his son and friend col­lided with the truck, rather that speed and “inat­ten­tive driv­ing” were more likely to blame.

“Whether (the driver) drifted over, or it was Eric – the long and short of it is both ve­hi­cles were at the cen­tre line at the ex­act same time,” says Tops.

Dan­ger­ous driv­ing was also iden­ti­fied as a con­cern by the Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Chiefs of Po­lice in its 2018 Op­er­a­tion Im­pact, an ini­tia­tive some prov­inces took part in to ad­dress ag­gres­sive, im­paired and dis­tracted driv­ing, as well as seat­belt use.

Nova Sco­tia par­tic­i­pated, but RCMP pub­lic in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer Cpl. Jen­nifer Clarke says it’s dif­fi­cult to as­sess what di­rect im­pact the ini­tia­tive has had since it be­gan in Oc­to­ber.

Stunt­ing – a charge Nova Sco­tia driv­ers face if clocked driv­ing 50 km/h or more above the limit – is also cause for con­cern, ac­cord­ing to Clarke, who says data shows charges have risen steadily in the prov­ince since the law came into ef­fect in 2013.

“Be­fore that law came into ef­fect, some­one who was go­ing more than 50 km/h would have re­ceived a ticket for speed­ing, so it’s not as if driv­ers weren’t be­ing tick­eted for that of­fence,” she says.

Tops says he’s thank­ful both Payne and his son sur­vived the ac­ci­dent and says both men feel lucky the in­ci­dent has only left them phys­i­cally scarred. Payne now presents as a mo­ti­va­tional speaker to other am­putees, and Tops’s son owns and drives his own mo­tor­cy­cle.

As for Tops, he now uses the ex­pe­ri­ence as a first-hand ex­am­ple of the con­se­quences of dan­ger­ous driv­ing and the se­conds it re­moves from a driver’s re­sponse time.

“That ac­ci­dent could so eas­ily have taken both their lives,” says Tops.

One prov­ince see­ing a reg­u­lar in­crease in driv­ers caught speed­ing 50 km/h over posted speed lim­its is Nova Sco­tia, which has seen in­creases each year since 2013. In what Hal­i­fax Re­gional Po­lice me­dia of­fi­cer Const. John Ma­cleod calls an in­ci­dent “of sig­nif­i­cant speed and dan­ger to the pub­lic,” a Nova Sco­tia man was caught driv­ing 162 km/h over the posted limit in a Bed­ford school zone in March 2018.

This was one of 18 stunt­ing tick­ets is­sued in Hal­i­fax from Novem­ber 2017 to Novem­ber 2018.

“When­ever some­one chooses to ex­ceed th­ese lim­its, it places both the oc­cu­pants of that ve­hi­cle in po­ten­tial dan­ger as well as the rest of the mo­tor­ing pub­lic and pedes­tri­ans in the area,” says Ma­cleod.

Such in­ci­dents show At­lantic Cana­di­ans still have far to go, says Tops. He sits on the prov­ince’s Road Safety Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee, which he de­scribes as a “think tank” for the trans­porta­tion depart­ment.

Tops says the in­ci­dent serves as an in­spi­ra­tion to him and oth­ers de­cid­ing how to best ad­dress speed­ing and dan­ger­ous driv­ing that re­sult in th­ese ac­ci­dents. They of­ten oc­cur due to sev­eral fac­tors, he says, in­clud­ing speed, weather, age, and ex­pe­ri­ence.

“There were cer­tainly a mul­ti­tude of fac­tors when our ac­ci­dent hap­pened – it was a recipe for dis­as­ter,” he says.

“A mo­ment of inat­ten­tion can make a life­time of dif­fer­ence.”

Clarke said the one thing po­lice can con­tinue do­ing is change tac­tics, such as us­ing car rentals to spot traf­fic vi­o­la­tions or even dress­ing po­lice as hitch­hik­ers watch­ing for cell-phone use.

“We will con­tinue to be out there… try­ing to do our part to im­prove road safety for Nova Sco­tia driv­ers,” says Clarke.

Tops’s fam­ily and Payne met up in 2015 in Cold­brook to mark the 10-year an­niver­sary of that life-chang­ing ac­ci­dent. They have dubbed the an­niver­sary “Alive Day” to cel­e­brate that they and their love of mo­tor­cy­cling sur­vived.

“Af­ter the ac­ci­dent, we all still rode. Has it changed the out­look? Sure, and some things are a lit­tle more pro­nounced now – a lit­tle more cau­tion used on blind turns,” says Tops.

– Gary Howard, CAA At­lantic

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

Michael Tops, right, stands with his son, wife and close friend Eric Payne. While rid­ing mo­tor­cy­cles along Brook­lyn Street in Cen­tre­ville in 2005, the bike Payne and Tops’s son were on was struck by a pickup truck. They are pic­tured here in 2015, when they met to mark the 10th an­niver­sary of the event they’ve dubbed “Alive Day.”

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