The electronic message board above the Trans Canada Highway near Langford says it all: increased traffic enforcement ahead on the Malahat Drive.
It’s no secret that as drivers wind their their way through the twists and turns of the main highway connecting Greater Victoria to communities up Island that extra police are watching them.
The “Making the Malahat Safer” enforcement campaign launched at the beginning of July and in the first two weeks officers wrote almost 600 speeding tickets, 11 of which resulted in a seven day impoundment for excessive speed.
Another 100 drivers were slapped with fines for offenses ranging from failure to wear a seat belt or using a mobile devise while driving. Five were caught impaired and two without a valid licence.
Last Wednesday officers were joined by members of the Ministry of Transportation’s commercial vehicle safety and enforcement branch who closed one north bound lane on Peden’s Stretch to stop and inspect commercial trucks. The routine check was similar to what would normally be performed at the weigh scale in Duncan.
“We’re looking for the minimum operating requirements — checking breaks, tires, lights,” explained Brian Kangas, manager of vehicle inspections and standards with the CVSE.
After the inspection, which can take 30 to 75 minutes, the driver is given a report with instructions to fix anything that could be dangerous. If something is seriously wrong the vehicle is taken off the road.
Also of concern is driver fitness. One driver was fined almost $600 for going three days without filling out a driving log, another watched his truck towed for driving with an expired licence.
“Commercial vehicles make up a significant amount of highway users and can do a lot of damage if they aren’t fit to drive,” said RCMP Const. Robert Figueiredo of the Integrated Road Safety Unit.
In April, a fuel tanker truck driver was allegedly impaired when he crashed and spilled 42,000 litres of gasoline into the Goldstream River while rounding one of the many sharp turns on Malahat Drive. More recently, on July 1, a motorcyclist was struck and killed by another allegedly drunk driver just south of the Malahat.
“It’s a dangerous road and we want to see it as safe as possible for everyone,” Figueiredo said.
While the lane was blocked off, police also had their licence plate scanner to watch for people driving without the appropriate licence or insurance, as well as watching for speeders.
Traffic was backed up for a few kilometres as a result of the lane closure, but officers cleared the road by 2 p.m. to avoid slowing down commuter traffic.
Making the Malahat Safer campaign will continue throughout the summer.