Alberta police chiefs call for stricter speeding laws

Some police chiefs in Alberta are asking the province to toughen its traffic laws — especially those related to speeding

New rules would affect drivers speeding by more than 50 km/h

Police chiefs want stricter speeding laws

8 years ago
Though not unanimous, police chiefs voted for more power to seize vehicles and licences from drivers going more than 50 km/h over the speed limit. 2:03

Some Alberta police chiefs are asking the province to toughen up its traffic laws — especially those related to speeding.

Last week, the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police voted in favour of a resolution that would allow officers to impound for  one week vehicles of drivers caught going more than 50 kilometres per hour over the speed limit.

Officers would also be given the authority to suspend drivers' licences for the same amount of time, should the province approve the resolution.

"I think it will have an impact on prolific offenders — those people that are out there and just driving irresponsibly at extreme rates of speed," Edmonton police chief Rod Knecht said Monday.

"That's who we want to focus on. Again, we're not looking for this person going 10 kilometres over the speed limit."

The vote was not unanimous, however. Calgary's police chief voted against the proposed changes.

  • Click on the "Listen" button to hear the Calgary Eyeopener's interview with police chief Rick Hanson

"There's already provisions in the traffic safety act for drivers who exceed 50 kilometres an hour — and that is a mandatory court appearance," said Calgary police spokesman Kevin Brookwell.

Based on the court decision, drivers may lose their licence or face charges of criminal negligence under the current system, he added.

Province not planning to make changes

Justice Minister Jonathan Denis said Monday the province is not planning to give police the power to seize vehicles.

"It’s not something that we’re considering at this time.… I haven’t seen any evidence to date that additional powers for vehicle seizures to our police is going to make our roads safer."

Justice Minister Jonathan Denis said Monday there's no hard proof it would work, despite the success of similar legislation put in place in Ontario, B.C. and Quebec.

Since its policy went into effect in 2010, B.C.'s Ministry of Justice says the number of fatal and injury-related crashes was cut in half compared to the previous five-year period.

But Denis said that is not enough.

"Just because B.C. does something, doesn’t mean that Alberta has to follow suit. We have to act in the best interests of people in this province. And the two provinces are very different."

Speeding by the numbers

Last year, 55 per cent of all traffic fatalities in Edmonton involved speeding.

Edmonton police say drivers simply aren't getting the message, despite programs like Operation 24 Hours that are intended to curb speeding.

According to a release Monday,  2,810 tickets issued in a 24-hour period last week were for speeding.

Sgt. Gary Lamont with Edmonton Police said he personally pulled over one driver who was going 174 kilometres per hour on Whitemud Drive.

"It's been a frustration of mine for years when we're dealing with someone that’s traveling at that rate of speed — that all we have to do is issue them a ticket and they get to drive away," Lamont said.