‘Speed­ing has been nor­mal­ized’

Driv­ing in­struc­tor says speed­ing data ‘may even be on the low side’ of real num­ber of in­ci­dents

The Southern Gazette - - Front Page - SARA ERICSSON AT­LANTIC RE­GION

Panic, fear, and worst-cas­esce­nar­ios whirled through Michael Tops’ head as he ran to help his son and close friend af­ter their mo­tor­cy­cle col­lided with a pickup truck.

The 2005 ac­ci­dent at the in­ter­sec­tion of Brook­lyn Street and Lanzy Road in Cen­tre­ville, Kings County could have been worse. Both men sur­vived, but Tops’ friend Eric Payne lost one of his legs and his mil­i­tary ca­reer. Tops says the hos­pi­tal visits also con­trib­uted to his fam­ily’s de­ci­sion to re­lo­cate from Green­wood to Shear­wa­ter.

And all of this is be­cause of the dan­ger­ous driv­ing he be­lieves caused the ac­ci­dent.

“The road­way they were on is a road where speed­ing is a nor­mal­ity – a back road out­side of town rarely pa­trolled by po­lice, in an area where traf­fic vol­ume is gen­er­ally low. Both were there at the same time,” says Tops.

“Whether there was a huge in­ten­tional com­po­nent there to be driv­ing dan­ger­ous, I can’t say. But, my gut tells me.”

Speed­ing a fac­tor in in­sur­ance av­er­ages

Eighty per cent of mo­tor ac­ci­dents can be avoided with one more sec­ond of re­sponse time – but only if mo­torists are driv­ing at the posted high­way speeds, says Gary Howard, vice-pres­i­dent of com­mu­ni­ca­tions at the Cana­dian Au­to­mo­bile As­so­ci­a­tion’s At­lantic depart­ment.

Once speed­ing is fac­tored in, driv­ers have even less time to re­spond. De­spite dan­ger­ous driv­ing hap­pen­ing across the At­lantic re­gion, he says there’s no cer­tain way to tell which prov­ince is most dan­ger­ous.

“If you speed, and you have a dis­trac­tion, you likely would not be able to re­act as well,” he says.

“It doesn’t take much, es­pe­cially if speed­ing, to have a fa­tal­ity.”

Among the At­lantic prov­inces, New­found­land has the high­est five-year av­er­age of speed­ing tick­ets from 2013 to 2017 – 29 per 1,000 peo­ple – with P.E.I., N.B. and N.S. com­ing in at 21, 20 and 17 per 1,000 peo­ple, re­spec­tively.

New­found­land also has the high­est av­er­age in­sur­ance rates in At­lantic Canada, at $1,132. Prince Ed­ward Is­land has the low­est at $796, with Nova Sco­tia and New Brunswick in sec­ond and third, with av­er­ages of $842 and $819.

Th­ese higher in­sur­ance rates aren’t due only to dan­ger­ous driv­ing – rates con­sider ad­di­tional fac­tors like a driver’s age and driv­ing record – but also con­sider claims per capita for all kinds of ac­ci­dents, says Howard.

“The sim­ple thing is the higher claims means higher risk, means higher pre­mi­ums. The in­sur­ance in­dus­try is ex­tremely com­plex… But in gen­eral, the three mar­itime prov­inces are com­pa­ra­ble,” he says.

Tops, who works as a project man­ager and de­fen­sive driv­ing ex­pert with Safety Ser­vices Nova Sco­tia, says while he can only speak to Nova Sco­tia, he’s not at all sur­prised by what the data shows.

“Do I find th­ese num­bers sur­pris­ing? Not at all – I think they may even be on the low side. Speed­ing has been nor­mal­ized in At­lantic Canada,” he says.

ASH­LEY THOMP­SON

Sgt. An­drew Buckle with the RCMP uses a LIDAR to catch speed­ers in the An­napo­lis Val­ley of Nova Sco­tia.

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