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How long will it take to change speeding culture on Port Coquitlam's Mary Hill Bypass?

Don't be surprised if you quickly get a ticket or your vehicle's impounded as the goal of a new police program is to catch speedsters and reduce traffic accidents.
Staff Sergeant Mark McCutcheon with Coquitlam RCMP Traffic Services uses a radar gun to catch speeders on Mary Hill Bypass in Port Coquitlam.

Speeding on the Mary Hill Bypass (7B) is so common, it's become a meme with Coquitlam RCMP posting on social media about drivers caught at dangerously high speeds.

On one recent afternoon, a truck hauling fir trees that were spilling out of its back trailer changed lanes in a hazardous way before racing to catch a yellow light while a grey Infiniti sedan raced through the intersection, as well.

They were lucky no one was hurt as many of these speeding incidents cause accidents.

In fact, the route through Port Coquitlam is so hazardous, it's been deemed by ICBC as one of the most dangerous in the Lower Mainland.

Even a PoCo city councillor recently said he "cringed" when driving through the Broadway Street intersection.

Reducing traffic accidents with enforcement

But can the culture of speeding on that stretch be reduced by increased traffic enforcement?

Coquitlam RCMP S/Sgt. Mark McCutcheon hopes so.

The local detachment's traffic services commander will be focusing PoCo's traffic resources on catching speeders on Mary Hill Bypass with the aim of reducing the number of serious accidents along the route.

Called High Accident Zone Enforcement (HAZE), the new program starts in December and will last at least a year, with Mounties directing as much as 25 per cent of its traffic resources to Highway 7B.

"It's not just an area to get a volume of tickets, I want to make a difference," said McCutcheon.

Officers with radar guns will place themselves behind a sign on a traffic median at the Broadway Street intersection or sit in cars and radio colleagues with information about speeders in other spots.

Effective in reducing speeding on Mariner Way

Drivers will pay hefty fines for speeding and, in some cases, lose their vehicle for seven days depending on how fast they are going.

B.C.'s Motor Vehicle Act defines excessive speeding as driving faster than 40 km/h over the posted limit.

And the faster you drive, the higher the fine:

  • More than 40 km/h = $368 fine and three penalty points added to your driving record
  • More than 60 km/h = $483 fine and three penalty points added to your driving record

The goal is to reduce speeding over a consistent and long period of time.

Over the next year, the Coquitlam RCMP will be tracking enforcement as well as the number of accidents to see if the effort has resulted in a reduction in accidents along the stretch.

"We already kind of do it, we've just given it a name. We are also going to be spending, now, a designated amount of time," said McCutcheon.

His team of seven traffic officers have other jobs as well, including traffic court, dealing with problems around schools, speed watch and other issues. 

But he hopes that if enough people get tickets — or slow down when they see police — the culture of speeding along the route will change.

It already has in another high accident zone in the City of Coquitlam, where RCMP will also be ramping up enforcement in targeted areas.

McCutcheon said police began doing more ticketing along Mariner Way after a 13-year old girl was killed.

The teen died when she was struck as two vehicles collided and one went up on to a median at Mariner Way and Riverview Crescent in Coquitlam.

"It is proven to work, that is where we noticed the number of accidents did go down. People knew you 'don’t speed on Mariner Way because cops are always there,'" said McCutcheon.

"Now, it’s time for Port Coquitlam."