Snowmobile speeding concerns councillors and OPP alike
February 11, 2021 By Canadian Press
Inspector Joseph Evans shared this piece of information during Wednesday’s Tay council committee meeting while answering a question posed by Coun. Paul Raymond.
“The OFSC (Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs) has said there is a 25 per cent increase in snowmobiling this winter, probably directly attributed to people at home (due to) COVID,” said Raymond. “What we’ve seen is probably a 25% increase in speed on our streets with snowmobiles. Is that on the radar? Is there something that can be done to reduce that?”
Evans, who is also interim detachment commander, said the OPP has had two snowmobiles on daily duty since Dec. 27.
“I have not only snowmobiles out on the trails, but I have any spare vehicles doing rides at trail stops and speed enforcement,” he added. “We’ve had several snowmobiles that have taken off on us this year. We’re unable to pursue them, it’s just not safe and they have more traction than we do.”
The patrols, added Evans, have lead to officers writing up to 11 tickets daily, most of them for speeding and the use of modified exhaust.
“I make sure any time the officers are going out to snowmobile, they know where the new complaints have been received,” he said. “We are touching on it and we have cruisers at trail sides as well. We didn’t want to have any fatalities this year, sadly we’ve already had three.”
Coun. Jeff Bumstead asked about the increase in speeding numbers, which increased to 3,387 in 2020, from 2,570 in 2019.
“Do you think that’s directly attributed to the increase in patrol hours? Or do you have a sense that in COVID, people are speeding more?” he asked.
Evans said COVID-19 could be one of the factors.
“I’ve had people come in here and say, when there’s no one on the roads, all of a sudden I look down and see myself doing 120 (km),” he said. “I think with the reduced activity otherwise during summer, officers are out driving. And when they’re out driving, they can stop people from speeding.”
He said where he agrees with sometimes giving someone a break if they’re caught speeding, driving too fast is a habit that happens day after day.
Coun. Barry Norris had an idea on how to remedy this bad habit.
“We talked about a radar car a year or something ago, can we still consider that? Do you recommend that?” he asked.
Evans said he supported that option.
“You might remember me talking about the black cat,” he said, talking about the Black Cat Radar Detection Device, which is a reliable method for collecting traffic-related data for all seasons.”It worked, however, the software wasn’t compatible with the OPP software, and they pulled them all back.”
Evans said he wants to focus on sending out the message in other ways.
“What I don’t like is when I send the traffic management unit (TMU) out and they come back with less than a mitt full of tickets,” he said. “Because then we’re not sending a message if we’re not writing the tickets. You can stop people and they don’t know what we’re stopping that vehicle for, everyone suspects speeding, but they don’t know.”
Evans said issuing more tickets will affect insurance and get people talking about the enforcement.
“The best thing I would suggest is when we’re getting those complaints and are being tabulated, we can have our TMU approach those areas for strict enforcement,” he said. “The more we can do to bring the community focus on the speed limit and strictly enforcing it, the better it will be for the community as a whole.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 11, 2021.
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