Starting this week, and continuing on throughout the summer, drivers on the Malahat Drive will be under increased surveillance.
Policing units from the south Island, including West Shore RCMP, kicked off the Making the Malahat Safer campaign on Wednesday.
“It’s our goal that no family has to have a policeman give them the gut-wrenching, life changing news that a loved one is never coming home again as a result of a crash on the Malahat,” said Staff Sgt. Frank Wright, CRD Integrated Road Safety Unit.
RCMP and the IRSU are making themselves visible on the Malahat in hopes of targeting high consequence and high risk driving, such as drunk driving, speeding or using mobile devices behind the wheel.
“We are frustrated with what we can do as a community to get impairment off the road. It’s not the odd occasion (when crashes are caused by impairment), it results in a lot of serious crashes,” said Langford fire Chief Bob Beckett. “This isn’t about the road or an engineering aspect.”
In the past four years nearly 200 people have been injured and seven people have died on the Malahat Drive in car crashes.
While ramping up enforcement RCMP have several tools and actions they are taking to help make the 25-kilometre stretch of highway safer.
Check stops are being used to combat drinking and driving, the use of scopes will help identify drivers using mobile devices and not wearing seat belts, and licence plate readers will help identify prohibited drivers and unlicensed vehicles.
“If you are breaking the law, you will be charged,” said Const. Robert Figueiredo, of the CRD IRSU. “We want to reduce or eliminate crashes and deaths on our highways.”
With more police on the road, Figueiredo wants to remind all drivers when an emergency vehicle is in on the side of the road with its lights flashing, drivers “must reduce their speed and move over.”
Vancouver Island’s RCMP police helicopter, Air 8, is also being used to monitor unsafe driving practices such as tailgating, unsafe passing and aggressive driving. Once an offender is spotted, RCMP on the highway will be radioed the cars location and description.
“It will be the eye in the sky,” Figueiredo said.