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COLUMN: Coquitlam Mountie explains traffic strategy

Recently, a few Tri-City residents have expressed their frustration at witnessing fellow road users breaking the law and getting away with it.

Recently, a few Tri-City residents have expressed their frustration at witnessing fellow road users breaking the law and getting away with it. While each letter addressed a specific incident, they shared a common theme: The Coquitlam RCMP could be doing more about road safety.

It is that theme that I want to address.

First, I want to say that I understand the frustration and I appreciate that these people have spoken out.

In my 30-plus years as a Mountie, I have worked and lived in communities across B.C. and in every one of them, road safety has been a top priority for residents. Surveys of the citizens served by the Coquitlam RCMP reflect the same priorities.

Of course, this makes perfect sense; we all use the road system, whether as pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders, motorcyclists or motorists, so how safe we feel on local roads has a huge impact on how safe we feel we feel going about our daily business in our community.

So it is important that citizens understand what their local police force is doing to address this high priority public safety issue.

The Coquitlam RCMP practises a straightforward, strategic, intelligence-led approach that has measurably improved the safety of local roads and won accolades for our team in the process.

Since 1996, Canadian police forces, governments and partner organizations have shared a common vision of having the safest roads in the world. The Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) is the custodian of that vision and the national road safety strategy (Road Safety Strategy 2015) that supports it.

Our local goal, consistent with the national strategy, is to reduce fatalities and serious injuries by targeting the behaviours that CCMTA research proves are the greatest risk factors for road users: distracted and impaired driving, speeding and aggressive driving, and failure to properly use occupant restraints such as booster seats and seatbelts.

Our Traffic Services team heads up our strategy, using collision data, complaints from residents, information collected by our Tri-Cities Speed Watch volunteers and CCMTA best practices to identify local collision hot spots and target the risk factors.

This kind of approach takes a lot of effort. And it works:

We have achieved region-leading reductions in injury, fatal and alcohol-related collisions, and increased enforcement of provincial distracted driving legislation by more than 300% since its introduction in January 2010.

Since the inception of "Alexa's Team" in 2009, several of our local Mounties have been recognized by the Middelaer family and the BCAA Road Safety Foundation for outstanding work in impaired driving enforcement.

In November 2011, our Traffic Services section was recognized as B.C.'s outstanding traffic team by the BC Association of Chiefs of Police.

I know the citizens of Anmore, Belcarra, Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam understand that our members can't be everywhere all the time, and no matter how good we are or how many officers are working, we will never be able to catch every road user who breaks the law. That is why it is important that the citizens we serve know what we are doing about road safety and how our success is helping build safer, more secure communities.

Supt. Claude Wilcott is officer in chargeof the Coquitlam RCMP detachment.