Police nab Malahat speeders

Fifty-two speeding tickets were handed out on the Malahat in six hours Monday, July 28, as police focused on a construction zone at the summit that has a speed limit of 60 km/h One motorist was tagged for going 121 km/h in the 60 zone. Normally the highway at that point has an 80 km/h limit but it’s been lowered due to construction.

That motorist and two others, including the driver of a pickup pulling a fifth-wheel holiday trailer, were given violation tickets for excessive speeding – 40 km/h over the speed limit. They each got a $483 ticket and their vehicles were impounded.

Others got speeding tickets carrying fines of $368.

"They usually don’t pay attention to how fast they’re going," said RC MP Cpl. Ryan Bacica of the Integrated Regional Safety Unit. "Even when there’s no construction, the speeds are crazy. It seems with the warm weather, people are going faster."

Because of the number of violations, police will focus more on the Malahat, he said.

Flaggers at the construction site are concerned about their safety, telling officers that at times the traffic is "pretty crazy – they’re pretty concerned," Bacica said.

Police are concerned about anyone, including themselves, whose jobs take them onto busy highways, Bacica said. He asked that motorists slow down and also move over if they see police on the shoulder talking with a motorist.

"I don’t want to get run over," said Bacica. "People go by you so fast, the suction can pull you right onto the highway."

Malahat Fire Chief Rob Patterson was shocked to hear that one of the excessive speeders on Monday was a pickup pulling a fifth wheel. "Holy Moses, really? If somebody does something inadvertent in front of you, you’re not going to have a way out," he said.

Patterson was one of the people who urged the province to do further improvements on the highway such as adding more medians to prevent head-on crashes.

Cpl. Dion Klassen of South Island Traffic Services, based in Chemainus, said most people drive between one and 15 km/h over the speed limit.

"They start to get our attention when they’re over by 20," said Klassen.

His unit has to impound vehicles for excessive speeding at least once every two days, he said.

Motorists don’t seem to be getting the message; they’re not slowing down even though they’re seeing tow trucks on the side of the road preparing to haul cars away, he said.

There’s no one spot in Klassen’s jurisdiction that’s a hot spot for speeders, he said: "We catch speeders virtually anywhere."

He echoes the need for drivers give police at the roadside more room. "That’s the biggest area we need to see improvement."

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