Safety advisory committee works for safer streets

I believe that traffic safety is an important issue for all communities and it is especially significant for communities

Steve Christie

I believe that traffic safety is an important issue for all communities and it is especially significant for communities with growing populations. With higher populations comes more traffic and increased traffic safety-related concerns.

Lacombe has been experiencing steady, sustainable growth over the past few years and with this growth comes a need for increased traffic law enforcement to ensure vehicle and pedestrian safety.

Traffic safety in our City is improved by a policing partnership between the Lacombe Police Service and Enforcement Services. Both agencies work together in an effort to reduce collisions and provide safer roads.

In 2012, as part of a community-wide commitment to improving traffic safety, the City of Lacombe formed the Traffic Safety Advisory Committee (TSAC).

The primary goal of this committee is to enhance traffic and pedestrian safety through traffic safety education. The TSAC also encourages the public to voice concerns about traffic safety-related issues and to bring forward recommendations for improvements.

I am happy to say one TSAC recommendation adopted early on by the municipality is the ‘Report Impaired Driving’ program. This program is centered on educating the public around the dangers of impaired driving. The Alberta Traffic Safety Fund provides funding for materials to assist with the program.

Materials include signage placed at targeted areas around the City that encourage people to report impaired drivers.

The TSAC members also spread the message around the dangers of impaired driving by attending community events to increase awareness.

I am pleased with the committee’s latest initiative to improve child transportation safety by offering the ‘Child Car Seat Technician Course’ to community peace officers in Lacombe and surrounding communities.

Peace officers who complete the course will be trained technicians, equipped to advise parents of the safety requirements for car seats. Parents can bring in their car seats to community events where technicians will be available to ensure the seat meets these requirements. This course will be offered this spring.

Thirdly, the TSAC has recommended the City of Lacombe adopt the Alberta Traffic Safety Plan Calendar. This calendar, created with input from traffic safety stakeholders provides a province-wide coordinated approach that highlights priority traffic safety topics.

Enforcement agencies, provincial and local authorities, traffic safety consultants and other stakeholders work to focus on safety messages and enforcement on traffic safety themes every month.

These messages are placed in the bi-weekly City Pages spread in the Lacombe Express, on the City’s web site and social media and are shared with other media outlets to remind drivers and pedestrians about traffic safety.

The number of collisions, deaths and injuries on Alberta’s roads has declined since the implementation of the Alberta Traffic Safety Plan in 2007.

Traffic fatalities have dropped by nearly 32% over the past four years.

I am also pleased to report since its introduction in 2012, the City of Lacombe’s Automated Enforcement Program – which is intended to complement conventional traffic safety enforcement – has had an impact on improving driver behaviour. With an average of six tickets per hour (out of 1,767 hours), and a 26% drop in collisions from January to November (compared to the same time in 2013), the program has proven its value and council supports the continuation of the photo enforcement program.

The committee also provided recommendations on new zones for automated enforcement. Once the new zones have been reviewed and approved, signage will be erected in these high-risk areas and they will become part of the photo enforcement program.

In closing, I would like to thank the volunteers on the TSAC for their hard work and dedication to keeping our streets safe. I would also like to remind everyone that the traffic safety – both vehicular and pedestrian – is a top priority for council.

Steve Christie is the mayor of Lacombe.