Drive safe and sober this long weekend, say RCMP

Canada Road Safety Week, a national campaign aiming to raise awareness about safe driving measures, runs from May 17 to May 23.

Officers hoping to see drop in ticket numbers during Canada Road Safety Week

Sgt. Darrin Turnbull with Alberta RCMP Traffic said police see a higher number of collisions and injuries to motorists over Victoria Day long weekend. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

On a routine patrol along a stretch of Highway 2 north of Calgary on Wednesday, Sgt. Darrin Turnbull with Alberta RCMP Traffic issues a ticket to one driver for speeding and to another for distracted driving.

As Canada Road Safety Week kicks off — a national campaign put on by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police — Turnbull said officers across the province are hoping to see ticket numbers, dangerous driving behaviours and collisions drop. 

The campaign, which aims to raise awareness about safe driving measures, runs from May 17 to May 23 and encompasses Victoria Day long weekend.

The long weekend is usually a time when RCMP see an increased number of collisions on Alberta highways, said Turnbull.

"We would love to report that…there were no fatal crashes this long weekend, that nobody died," he said. 

"We're hopeful that's what's going to happen."

Debbie Hammond with the Safer Roads Alliance said Alberta drivers should expect especially busy roads this weekend. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

Turnbull said the four main causes of serious injuries for motorists and fatal collisions are impaired driving, distracted driving, speeding and aggressive driving and the misuse of occupant restraints or seatbelts. 

"We see lots of different offences on the highways. Obviously impairment, whether it be [due to] drugs or alcohol, is one of the big concerns."

In a statement, the Alberta RCMP said they will be especially focused on enforcing sober driving over the long weekend. 

"The driving decisions you make not only impact you, but also everyone else you are sharing the road with," said Insp. Chris Romanchych with Alberta RCMP Traffic Services.

"So this long weekend, we encourage motorists to think of others when they get behind the wheel and to choose safe driving behaviours."    

Debbie Hammond is the executive director of the Safer Roads Alliance, an Alberta based organization that advocates for changing dangerous driving behaviours.

She said that a combination of warmer weather, the long weekend and fewer COVID-19 restrictions will mean that roads will be particularly busy this weekend.

"Being in lockdown and not really being able to be with people for two years, that just intensifies the desire to get out and be with your friends," said Hammond.

"So the best thing I could say to drivers is make sure you have a plan, give yourself some extra time because you know there's going to be more traffic on the road, and remember that everybody's just like you, wanting to get to where you're going to be with the people you love."

Hammond made special mention of young drivers who may be especially excited with the summer season and graduation coming up.

"Please remember, make sure you have a safe ride home and it's never worth the risk [to drive impaired]," she said.

"The fun only begins when you get to where you're going."

With files from Dave Gilson