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ICBC, RCMP crack down on traffic offenders

Chill, Focus, and Relax campaign seeks to calm drivers

ICBC and the RCMP have teamed up to promote a new two-month campaign to calm aggressive drivers – and if drivers don’t listen the RCMP has additional resources to enforce the rules of the road.

The new joint campaign is called "Chill, Focus, and Relax", and the goal is to bring attention to the problem of aggressive, dangerous driving in the province.

The program was announced before Canada Day, which is generally a busy day for rescue crews and the RCMP. In 2005 one person was killed and 160 injured in 540 crashes on B.C. roads.

"Police tell us that travelling at an unsafe speed is the most frequent contributing factor in fatal collisions," said Solicitor General John Les. "This becomes more of a concern as many motorists gear up to travel on B.C. roads and highways this summer.

"Throughout the summer, police province-wide will be targeting dangerous and aggressive drivers. The message they will be conveying to all drivers is that dangerous and aggressive driving, on our roads and highways, will not be tolerated."

In addition to bumping up the police presence, ICBC will also be conducting an awareness and education campaign through July and August. Some of the "Chill, Focus, and Relax" advice offered includes:

• Practicing courtesy and setting an example for other drivers;

• Plan ahead and be realistic about travel times, allowing extra time for delays that may arise due to increased traffic volume or construction;

• Slow down and leave plenty of space between your vehicle and the one in front;

• Make staying focused on the road a priority by keeping distractions to a minimum. Place calls before you drive and pull over to read maps;

• Never drink and drive.

According to Inspector Norm McPhail of the RCMP’s Sea to Sky regional policing service, Sea to Sky Traffic Services will have an enhanced presence on the highway this summer, as will the local detachment on Whistler roads.

"In terms of enhanced enforcement we’ve just received additional dollars from the province for more officers for the Sea to Sky Traffic Services, which will provide several hundred hours of additional enforcement and overtime," he said. "Municipal traffic units have also been bolstered to look for aggressive drivers, seatbelts, impaired driving, and those kinds of things. The funding for municipal units came this week, on top of the funding block for the corridor service.

"Some of the things we’re seeing are motorcycles driven at high rates of speed, vehicles driving too fast, vehicles driving over and passing on the double yellow lines, people running amber lights, red lights… which has contributed to significant accidents."

According to McPhail, the RCMP is of the opinion that aggressive driving is responsible for the majority of accidents and closures on the highway, although legitimate accidents also happen too frequently.

"We’re improving the design of the highway through the upgrade, but we also have to curb driver behaviour because people are not abiding the rules of the road."

McPhail says enforcement does work, which is why the Whistler and Pemberton detachment does between 400 and 600 checks a month. Officers can be anywhere, but some priority areas include school zones, areas prone to speeding, stop signs, and areas where accidents occur. In addition, there will be more checks for seatbelts and drunk drivers.

"(Whistler) is now working with the District of Squamish and looking through the statistics to see how to improve traffic services in the corridor," he said. "The highway is the lifeblood of our communities, and we need to make sure the route is safe."