Police on the road this long weekend for ‘Operation Impact’

RCMP cracking down on impaired driving, seatbelt use, distracted driving, and aggressive driving

The RCMP will be out in force on the region’s highways this long weekend.

Cpl. Don Erichsen of East Kootenay Traffic Services said the aim is to make sure tragedy is prevented and everyone can get home to enjoy Thanksgiving.

So East Kootenay drivers should be aware that “Operation Impact” is running Oct. 11 through 14.

“Our goal is to continue to enforce the ‘Big Four,'” Erichsen said. “Impaired driving, occupant restraint use (seat belts), distracted driving (cellphones, etc) and aggressive driving.”

Aggressive driving is a pretty broad category, Cpl. Erichsen said. But one particular aspect that’s causing concern to local police is driver behaviour around emergency vehicles stopped at the side of the road, displaying flashing red, blue or yellow lights. This category includes tow trucks, which most people don’t seem to be aware of, Erichsen said.

The RCMP recently conducted a campaign over the past week in the Moyie area and in the Elk Valley, to educate drivers on how to properly approach stopped emergency vehicles.

“Of the five hours we were on the road in this two-campaign period, we handed out more than 100 warnings, to people who weren’t slowing down at all and people who weren’t slowing down to the prescribed speed,” Erichsen said.

When the speed limit is 80 kilometres an hour or higher, vehicles must slow down to 70 kilometres an hour and move over. When the speed limit is lower than 70 kph — in town, basically — drivers must slow to 40 and move over.

“It’s one of the more aggressive driving behaviours that we’re seeing more and more of,” Erichsen said.

“The stories we’re hearing from tow truck drivers are pretty alarming.”

To this end, the RCMP are preparing an education campaign, which they will be bringing into the high schools in the area, talking to young drivers and helping them develop proper driving habits.