The best and worst of New­found­land’s high­ways

Speed­ing, dis­tracted driv­ing go hand-in-hand says RCMP of­fi­cer

The Southern Gazette - - Front Page - BY CHRIS LEWIS THE COM­PASS CON­CEP­TION BAY NORTH, N.L. chris.lewis@cb­n­com­

As light snow fell, Const. David Bour­den hoped driv­ers would slow down and drive for the con­di­tions.

Some did. Oth­ers took un­nec­es­sary risks on slip­pery roads.

As a traf­fic ser­vices of­fi­cer with the RCMP, Bour­den is based out of Holy­rood, but his job takes him any­where he needs to be. On Nov. 29, he was pa­trolling Vet­eran’s Memo­rial High­way and con­ducted two traf­fic stops, one re­sult­ing in a ticket af­ter Bour­den noted the driver, about to turn onto a 100-km/h zone, was not wear­ing a seat­belt af­ter ap­proach­ing a stop sign at a rel­a­tively high speed.

The driver claimed it had sim­ply slipped their mind some­thing Bour­den hears too of­ten.

“Some­times, peo­ple will just make it even worse for them­selves by say­ing ‘Oh, I wasn’t pay­ing at­ten­tion,’ or ‘I was talk­ing to my pas­sen­ger.’ Well, that just makes it look worse be­cause then we’ve got some­one who is not only driv­ing over the speed limit but says that they’re not even pay­ing at­ten­tion to the road,” he said.

Bour­den knows just how fast nearby driv­ers are go­ing thanks to the mul­ti­tude of equip­ment, marked with RCMP lo­gos, in­side his Chevro­let Ta­hoe. With the help of speed mon­i­tor­ing sys­tems that beep pe­ri­od­i­cally in re­sponse to driv­ers both ahead and be­hind him, Bour­den sees just about ev­ery speed­ing of­fence in the area.

It’s not ex­actly rare to find peo­ple driv­ing above the speed limit along busy roads. But, he says, speed­ing is not al­ways the di­rect rea­son be­hind ac­ci­dents - there are many fac­tors at play.

“Speed­ing it­self shouldn’t al­ways be the sole blame be­hind a lot of col­li­sions. There’s of­ten an­other fac­tor that plays into it that, once you mix in speed­ing as well, can re­sult in an ac­ci­dent or col­li­sion,” Bour­den ex­plained, not­ing that dis­tracted driv­ers are a ma­jor prob­lem.

Phones are the most com­mon, but he’s seen many other dis­trac­tions, rang­ing from driv­ers eat­ing be­hind the wheel to an un­easy dog in the pas­sen­ger seat. A more as­ton­ish­ing ex­am­ple is a per­son read­ing the news­pa­per while driv­ing.

Even if safety is not a driver’s top pri­or­ity, the le­gal ram­i­fi­ca­tions of speed­ing should be. In June 2018, amend­ments to the New­found­land and Labrador Ve­hi­cle Seizure and Im­pound­ment Pro­gram upped the top limit to 51 km/h and added heav­ier fines and the pos­si­bil­ity of a three-day ve­hi­cle im­pound­ment.

De­spite the high speeds one would have to drive to break that reg­u­la­tion, Bour­den says it’s not overly dif­fi­cult to find.

“I mean, if you spend a day on the Trans-Canada, then you’re likely go­ing to find one or two peo­ple driv­ing at those speeds, depend­ing on the day and the weather of course,” he said, adding that prior to the new reg­u­la­tions, the high­est speed he had seen was 204 km/h.

“We’ll have peo­ple call us, too, and ad­vise of us some driv­ers who are go­ing that fast. Peo­ple will tell us, ‘hey, we’re do­ing a good 115 here on the high­way, and this other guy just zoomed past us,’ so ob­vi­ously that per­son pass­ing them is driv­ing way, way too fast.”


Const. David Bour­den has seen the best and the worst of high­way driv­ers on both the Vet­eran’s Memo­rial High­way, as well as the Trans-Canada High­way.

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