A spike in reckless driving has local police shifting tactics in their never-ending battle against scofflaw road warriors.
Norfolk OPP soon will take delivery of a portable radar unit that can be mounted in a cruiser or discretely on a tripod in a hidden location. With the latter, enforcement is a two-step process. High flyers won’t know what hit them until it is too late.
“They won’t see the cruiser when they’re speeding but there will be a cruiser waiting for them up the road,” said Dennis Travale, chair of the Norfolk Police Services Board.
The “lidar” radar unit costs $3,000. Lidar is a contraction of light and radar, with the technology using laser light to measure distance as a means of calculating speed. The technology is more precise than standard radar.
“The lidar unit is sophisticated enough that it can pick up a speeding vehicle within a pack of vehicles,” Travale said. “Speeding is the No. 1 complaint the police board is receiving.”
Police increasingly rely on sophisticated technology to give them an edge over careless drivers.
The Norfolk OPP occasionally reports taking suspended drivers off the road after an automated, laser-based licence-plate reading system alerts officers on patrol to potential problems with passing vehicles.
Another tool at the force’s disposal involves its increasing inventory of Speed Watch signs. The units are familiar to local motorists by now. Posted on the outskirts of urban centres, the signs alert drivers if they are travelling faster than the posted limit.
Norfolk County has purchased 12 of the solar-powered devices since last year. At its regular meeting last week, Norfolk’s police services board asked that Norfolk consider approving $68,500 for the purchase of 10 more in 2021.
The resolution notes that Norfolk’s new false alarm bylaw has generated about $25,000 in fine revenue since the spring and that this cash could be applied toward the Speed Watch purchase. If Norfolk council wants to up the ante, the PSB can live with that.
“If you can buy 20 – buy 20,” Travale said. “We have a lot of complaints across the county.”
A general slowdown in economic activity since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared has resulted in fewer vehicles on the road most everywhere.
Lower traffic volumes have, in turn, emboldened stunt drivers to hit the gas. As a result, police are receiving increasing reports of vehicles speeding through built-up areas with no regard for public safety.
While there has been a spike in stunt driving since March, the overall number of traffic violations in Norfolk involving speeding, impaired driving and distracted driving is down year-over-year.
By the end of July, Norfolk OPP had:
- Written 1,179 speeding tickets, down 18.8 per cent from 1,452 in the same period last year.
- Laid 101 charges for impaired driving, down 9.8 per cent from 112;
- And laid seven charges for distracted driving, down 73.1 per cent from 26.