Road safety week campaign charges continue to raise disturbing statistics
Kings County motorists earned a dubious distinction during the recent Canada Road Safety Week campaign across the province. Apparently they are the worst drivers in P.E.I. Kings District RCMP laid almost as many charges as Queens District and Prince District officers combined.
Two obvious conclusions come to mind. Either motorists in the Kings County area have generally poor to dangerous driving habits, or RCMP in Montague and Souris detachments are unusually diligent in the performance of their duties. The total charges in the Kings County area reached 73, compared to 60 in Queens and just 31 in Prince.
The safety week campaign is an annual police effort to target high risk driving behaviours that put drivers and others at risk. Besides getting some dangerous drivers off the road, the campaign reminds people that traffic enforcement is an important police component that saves lives and reduces injuries on our roadways.
The campaign sends a message that Island motorists must improve their driving habits if we hope to see traffic accidents, injuries and deaths decrease.
The most alarming category among the statistics was aggressive driving, which includes speeding, ignoring stop signs and failing to yield. There were 96 charges laid — almost two-thirds of the total number — in this category alone. Kings District had 40 of those. Failing to wear seat belts continues to be a concern with 20 charges laid, 14 of them in Kings.
Impaired driving by alcohol is always a category that attracts the attention of police and the general public. There were six charges laid, three in Kings. Motorists still don’t get the message that impaired drivers are lethal weapons on Island roads. Distracted drivers using cellphones resulted in five more charges.
The police checkpoints and vehicle stops also saw tickets issued for 35 other miscellaneous Highway Traffic Act offences.
Canada Road Safety Week is part of a national police and government strategy with a goal of making Canada’s roads the safest in the world by 2015. If P.E.I.’s statistics are an indication, we have a long way to goal to reach that goal.
A true media friend
Sgt. Andrew Blackadar was a welcome sight and voice in media newsrooms across this province for the past three years. The media relations officer for the RCMP on Prince Edward Island was a dream come true for reporters, photographers and editors. He was usually available and always helpful for media queries on any range of topics.
If he didn’t have an answer, he could usually find out quickly to help meet deadlines for publishing and newscasts.
The job likely isn’t a favourite among police who would view the position as babysitting annoying media members instead of doing the police work they trained for, and expected, to do.
It was interesting to see that Sgt. Blackadar was considered more a media person than a police officer by the RCMP themselves once he transferred to his position three years ago.
It’s always a fine line balancing media questions, the public’s right to know and the privacy rights for grieving families and victims of crime. Police at a crime scene have more important things to do than take a call from the press and that is where Sgt. Blackadar was so important.
The explosion of social media means that in an increasing number of cases, people are tweeting and posting to Facebook names and details not yet released by police, while media are scrambling to try and confirm those details.
It makes the job as media relations officer extremely challenging these days.