Editorial: Enforcement needs to be part of safety plan

Doing the 100 Avenue Shuffle – Bruce Humen cartoon

The Town of Morinville held an open house last week to get some input on traffic and pedestrian safety in the community. Considerable efforts have been made this year to map out every speed zone sign, stop sign, yield sign, crosswalk sign, and all the other elements that advise people on the rules of the road. It’s a shame the whole project is a giant waste of time and money.

Don’t get us wrong. A traffic and pedestrian safety review is a laudable pursuit. Inventorying the traffic picture of a growing community is a wise thing to do. So is asking the public (the people who live in the growing community) what works and what doesn’t. The waste of time and money comes in to play because those driving through this community do not seem to care about the rules of the road.

Mention photo radar in this town and you will set someone off on a tirade, eyes bulging in faces that have turned lobster red with rage. Some of that is justified. A guy hiding in a ditch or a tree with a radar gun catching people heading out of town is slimy and irresponsible when one considers the number of idiots racing through school zones and residential neighbourhoods on a regular basis in other parts of town.

But speeding in Morinville is one of a number of driving problems.

Is it too much to expect of people to stop at a sign that says STOP? Walking through town I’ve watched people blow through them, roll through them, and get honked at if they actually stop at them.

Crosswalks, particularly those on 100 Avenue and 100 Street, also seem to receive the same regard as stop signs. Cross the road in this town and you are likely as not to have to stop yourself lest you get hit by a car, truck, motorcycle or piece of farm equipment. Take too long to cross and drivers will edge you along like a sheep dog pushing a herd back to the pen.

Some of the danger crossing the street in this town is due to entitled idiots who have no respect for pedestrians. The other part is due to distracted idiots whipping up the road with a cellphone in one hand and a coffee and donut in the other, their vehicle steered with some unknown third appendage.

Parking lots are also treacherous. Really; if you are unable to manoeuvre that giant pickup truck or SUV, trade it in for a SMART car. Despite the name of the car, there is no IQ test required prior to handing you the keys.

The Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Review will identify a number of things that can be done to make the town safer for drivers and pedestrians, but for the streets to be truly safe for all concerned, motorist behaviour has to change. Trimming tree branches so they do not obscure stop signs is of little use if people cannot be bothered to stop for them. Painting horizontal lines on a crosswalk to better define it is a wonderful idea, but it is useless if motorists fail to yield for the pedestrian crossing that better-defined crosswalk.

In the end, the only thing that really changes driver behaviour is being in an accident or having the rules of the road reintroduced to us by a big fat traffic ticket. We like enforcement because there is no greater deterrent to speeders, distracted drivers or idiots that don’t stop for stop signs than a nice kick in the wallet. Don’t want to stop for pedestrians in Morinville? There is nothing like a $500 ticket and four demerit points to remind you of why you should have.

Happy driving.

-SD

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The Morinville News is an online daily and bi-weekly print publication serving Morinville and surrounding area. Our print publication is distributed on the first, third and fifth Wednesday. You can also follow us online on Twitter @MorinvilleNews and on Facebook at Facebook.com/MorinvilleNews

6 Comments

  1. Stephen, this has to be one of the best you’ve ever done; truly a nice piece of work and all I can say is – TRUE, TRUE, TRUE!!

    Why the NINE “dedicated to Morinville” RCMP officers and our two local “Community Peace Officers” aren’t EXTREMELY visible and even, dare I say it, out of their vehicles every now and then is beyond me!

    Perhaps more folks should take down licence plate numbers of offenders and report these idiots. Who knows? Maybe it’ll do some good!

    Once again, every word you’ve written in this editorial is spot on… Have yourself a fine day!

  2. Well said! I have stood at many a crosswalk in this town waiting for it to be safe to cross! I have even had RCMP cars go through without stopping at a marked crosswalk, who will ticket them?

  3. Since no one tickets anyone for not stopping at crosswalks there is no one to ticket the police. The ignorant and the rude, including those officers ignoring the rules they should be enforcing, all need to get a big fat fine. Maybe, doubtful, they will learn to be more cognizant of the world around them.

  4. While I agree that traffic blowing through stop signs and cross walks is a particularly disturbing trend in our town. I also would like to point out the number of people who choose not to use the cross walks and commit themselves to jay walking on a regular basis.

    I walk to work frequently and have found that there have been times when drivers are distracted but have also seen a number of people cross outside of cross walks and into streets expecting vehicles to stop.

    The root of the problem may not be simply bad drivers or bad walkers, it may be a lack of respect for one another and a disregard of other people.

    Getting back to the basics of being good neighbours would go a long way in our little town.

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