This month, perhaps think twice before you go speeding into the sunset.
Alberta Transportation has declared April as official Speed Awareness Month. Since one in four fatal crashes in the province involve a motor vehicle moving at an unsafe speed, and between 2010-14, 451 people in Alberta were killed and 11,753 were injured in collisions involving unsafe speeds, the stress is needed.
The faster you go means it will take just that much more distance to slow down. For example, a vehicle going at 50 km an hour will need 37 metres to stop, while one moving at 110 km an hour needs 126 metres to stop. That’s an increase of over three times the distance when you’re going at just over twice the speed. On top of which, you are not likely to be able to reach your destination that much faster.
“Actually, speeding saves very little time, if you’re trying to get from one place to another,” said Cst. Jason Wierenga, Taber/Vauxhall RCMP. “When you’re slowing down, for example at traffic lights, if you’re speeding, it actually reduces your ability to obey traffic control devices, like red light or stop signs. It makes it harder to stop in time for them.”
“The faster you go, the longer it takes to stop. The faster you drive, the harder you hit something.”
Police officers across the province will be stepping up their watch for speeders this month, and the Taber/Vauxhall RCMP detachment is no different. Each RCMP vehicle is equipped with radar to help determine the speeds of other vehicles. A handheld laser speed unit was recently purchased to focus on individual vehicle speeds, to go with their existing handheld radar devices.
Speeding results in both fines and demerit points, which range from two (exceeding the posted limit by less than 15 km an hour) to six (exceeding the posted limit by more than 50 km an hour).
“There is also a charge of unreasonable rate of speed,” said Wierenga, adding that the ticket is worth four demerit points. “That would be a rate of speed that is too high considering the driving conditions at that time… It could even be under the speed limit, but that charge isn’t used as frequently.”
Demerit points range from two to seven points. If you are a fully licensed driver, and you gain 15 points in a two-year period, you will be suspended for driving for one month, after which your points will be reset to seven. If you are a recently-graduated driver and receive four points, you will get a courtesy letter in the mail, but once you accumulate eight in a one-year period, you are suspended for a month, after which your points will be reset to three.
If either driver reaches the point limit again within a year of the first suspension, their license is suspended for three months, and if it happens three times or more within two years, they will be suspended for six months and may have to appear before a judge.
Some of the fines for speeding are, as follows:
* 10 km or more over limit, $105
* 20 km or more over limit, $167
* 30 km or more over limit, $239
* 50 km over limit, $474
Anyone travelling at over 50 km an hour or more than the posted limit will be required to go to court, where a judge will decide on the amount.
“We do issue quite a few tickets each month that relate to speeding, and as one single category of infractions, that category (speeding) perhaps receives the most tickets,” said Wierenga.
School and playground zones have posted limits of 30 km an hour. However, that is in effect for set times during the day. Flashing crosswalks also have a speed limit at 30 km an hour, even if no one is crossing.
Fines are straight across the board, with the exception of construction zones or passing emergency vehicles, where in these cases, the fines for speeding will double.
When passing emergency vehicles, drivers must reduce speed down to 60 km an hour or below, depending on the speed limit. This applies to all police cars, fire trucks, ambulances and tow trucks. But one thing that people may not be aware of is that it applies only when you are on the same side of the road and directly in the next lane. If you are going in the opposite direction or there is a clear lane in between the two, then you can continue going the posted limit.