School may be out for the kids, but it is still in session for drivers.
Volunteers on the West Shore continue to educate motorists about low-speed zones, especially in areas surrounding playgrounds, which unlike school zones, are in effect dawn until dusk 365 days a year.
“Mostly in the summer we do target playground zones, because there are a lot of children there,” said Mona Dhaul, volunteer and Speed Watch program co-ordinator. She said one area that is particularly bad is the 30km/h zone in the 1100-block of Goldstream Avenue near Langford Lake. She targets that area because many drivers coming off the Trans Canada Highway don’t slow down when they reach Goldstream Avenue, the initial stretch of which has a crosswalk as well as various access points to the lake.
Speed Watch is a community-based educational program designed to make drivers more aware of the speeds they are actually traveling in hopes of reducing speed-related crashes in areas deemed high risk by local police and ICBC. Volunteers are trained by police to use portable radar gear and a digital board to monitor speeds. They keep records of speeds and return them to police to help with enforcement planning, and to ICBC for their records.
The speed reader boards are usually set up in neighbourhoods where residents have reported unsafe speeds, or where ICBC has deemed there is a high risk of speed-related incidents.
“Sometimes we do a second strike,” said Dhaul, “when a police officer comes out with us.” She said most drivers slow down when they see the speed boards, but those who don’t are stopped by the accompanying officer down the road.
When not accompanied by police, volunteers record excessive speeders’ plate number and the make, model and colour of their vehicle. That information is passed on to the community policing liaison, who sends a warning letter to the offender stating that they have been clocked by the program. Excessive speeding is considered traveling 20km/h over the posted speed limit, as in anything over 50 in a 30 zone, such as those with playgrounds nearby.
In the fall the program shifts its focus to school zones, Dhaul said, often setting up after school has let out for the day. They like to remind drivers that school zones are in effect until 5 p.m.
The program has 17 active volunteers who do at least two two-hour shifts a month. They usually hit the streets in pairs and often set up sign boards on both sides of the street for greater impact.
According to Kayte Dunlop, a member of the community policing office, the program checked more than 35,000 vehicles in 2014. Last year the program was out in the West Shore 60 times, with 120 hours spent reminding drivers to slow down.
If you have concerns regarding traffic speeds in your West Shore neighbourhood, call Dhaul at the community policing office at 250-391-3327, and she will arrange a date for volunteers to monitor traffic in the area of concern. You can call the same number for more information on the program or becoming a volunteer.