By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
The Town of Cobourg’s Road Safety Response Team – an initiative comprised of members of municipal staff and the Cobourg Police Service – urges residents to be safe on the roads by obeying speed limits and exercising patience.
Team members – who come from the Public Works Division, Legislative Services Department and Planning Department as well as the police force – meet regularly to discuss road-related safety concerns brought forward by residents.
Many of these are related to vehicle speeds (and requests for speed-limit reductions). Police then conduct a covert speed study based on the submitted concerns, sharing the results with the team.
“Roads are designed based on a pre-determined speed limit and good driving practices in mind,” Director of Public Works (and team member) Laurie Wills said in the press release.
“Reducing the speed limit on a road that was not designed for lower speed can cause safety issues for pedestrians, who could feel a false sense of security by expecting cars to be travelling at much lower speeds.”
The Province of Ontario has a statutory speed limit of 50 km/hr in urban hours, which applies to all roads without a posted speed limit. It is only required to post speed-limit signs for areas where the speed limit is higher or lower than 50 km/hr.
As of July 1, the province has amended Section 172 of the Highway Traffic Act to include the Moving Ontarians More Safely Act, which increases penalties for drivers caught engaging in aggressive and unsafe driving. The most significant change involves driving a motor vehicle at a rate of speed that is at least 40 km/hr above the speed limit where the posted speed limit is 80 km/hr. The penalty is an immediate 30-day roadside driver’s license suspension, a 14-day vehicle impoundment, and a fine that ranges from $2,000 up to $10,000 or six months imprisonment.
“Drivers will typically operate a vehicle how it feels comfortable to do so,” Cobourg Police Sergeant (and team member) Mike Richardson.
“Drivers tend to travel at 50 km/hr or higher in zones where the speed limit is posted lower than 50 km/hr. It is a natural speed in many areas, since it is the statutory speed limit across the province. A reduction in speed limit should be warranted by a substantial safety risk, such as excessive speeding.”
Northumberland County is currently working on a framework for a county-wide speeding-awareness campaign to bring attention to speed reduction and safe-driving techniques.
The Cobourg Police Service has also enhanced traffic patrols with its Selective Traffic Enforcement Project, which focuses on a different topic each month. During July, the focus is increased community education and enforcement, targeting illegal modifications to vehicles, unnecessary noise violations and speeding offences.
Residents who wish to submit a road-safety concern can e-mail the Road Safety Response Team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Meanwhile, the Town of Cobourg and Cobourg Police Service wish everyone a safe summer, and encourage residents to be patient and remember to slow down.