In­vest­ment in traf­fic safety sought

Nor­folk asked to com­mit $249K for elec­tronic speed signs

The Delhi News-Record - - NEWS - MONTE SONNENBERG

The Nor­folk OPP have made a high-tech pitch to im­prove safety on lo­cal roads.

When the new Nor­folk coun­cil gath­ers for its in­au­gu­ral bud­get ses­sion in Jan­uary, the cap­i­tal bud­get will pro­pose spend­ing $250,000 on elec­tronic signs that tell mo­torists how fast they are trav­el­ling and whether they need to slow down.

The ex­pen­di­ture in­cludes $17,000 for a mo­bile, road-side trailer with a large dig­i­tal read­out. Along with the trailer, the OPP are seek­ing 30 post-mounted de­vices.

Insp. Joe Varga, chief of the Nor­folk OPP, said this tech­nol­ogy has a proven track record of im­prov­ing pub­lic safety while re­duc­ing mu­nic­i­pal costs. The Nor­folk Po­lice Ser­vices Board agreed and for­warded the re­quest, by res­o­lu­tion, to the new Nor­folk coun­cil.

“A re­duc­tion in col­li­sion types will lessen the de­mand on emer­gency ser­vices,” Varga said in his re­port to the board on Nov. 28.

“With lim­ited re­sources and bud­gets, any re­duc­tion in the de­mand for th­ese ser­vices has the po­ten­tial to equate to a sav­ings for the county. Not to men­tion the re­duced emo­tional and phys­i­cal toll emer­gency re­spon­ders are ex­posed to with each and ev­ery call for ser­vice.

“The re­duc­tion of th­ese types of col­li­sions can also have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on in­sur­ance claims and law­suits.”

If ap­proved, Nor­folk would ac­quire the new tech­nol­ogy over five years. Wind­ham Coun. Jim Oliver, a Nor­folk coun­cil ap­pointee to the po­lice ser­vices board, ques­tioned the large num­ber of pole­mounted de­vices re­quested.

Varga re­sponded that the lo­cal de­tach­ment has places to put them, given the large num­ber of speed­ing complaints the force, the PSB and Nor­folk coun­cil mem­bers re­ceive. Chair Peter Hel­lyer agreed.

“It’s im­por­tant to have a num­ber of them be­cause — when some­body gets one — some­one else is go­ing to want one too,” Hel­lyer said.

The sup­plier is DavTech of Ot­tawa, a com­pany that deals in a wide range of safety- and en­force­ment-re­lated tech­nol­ogy.

One of the lit­tle-known ad­van­tages of th­ese de­vices, Varga said, in­volves mo­torists who zone out when driving in fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory.

In his re­port, Varga said nearly half of mo­torists have no rec­ol­lec­tion of the drive they just made af­ter com­plet­ing a reg­u­lar route. The OPP has re­ported in re­cent years that dis­tracted driving and driver inat­ten­tion are among the lead­ing causes of col­li­sions.

“Speed-watch signs help break this habit as they will work to trig­ger and alert the driver as to their speed and break them out of this `au­topi­lot’ mode, mak­ing them more aware,” the chief said.

Nor­folk County has a Col­li­sion Re­duc­tion Com­mit­tee. It is tasked with re­duc­ing the num­ber of traf­fic ac­ci­dents in the lo­cal area. Com­mit­tee mem­bers shared let­ters of sup­port with the po­lice ser­vices board.

“Over the years, the fo­cus of first re­spon­ders has changed from re­sponse to pre­ven­tion,” Fire Chief Terry Dicks said.

“Re­duc­ing the num­ber of mo­tor ve­hi­cle in­ci­dents pro­tects our res­i­dents and visitors as well as our first re­spon­ders. As a vol­un­teer fire de­part­ment, we rely on res­i­dents of our com­mu­nity who leave their jobs and fam­i­lies and re­spond to dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions.

“In or­der to main­tain our vol­un­teer sys­tem, we try to find new ways to re­duce the stress put on our first re­spon­ders, which in turn re­duces our staff turn-over and makes our com­mu­nity safer.”

MONTE SONNENBERG/ DELHI NEWS RECORD

Nor­folk OPP have de­ter­mined that radar-gun tech­nol­ogy isn’t enough to get lo­cal mo­torists to slow down and mind their driving. The force this week asked Nor­folk coun­cil to spend $250,000 over five years on 31 elec­tronic speed­mon­i­tor­ing signs. Demon­strat­ing a Fal­con HR radar gun at Nor­folk OPP head­quar­ters in Simcoe was OPP Aux. Sgt. Brad Wiersma.

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