Monthly blitz helps SGI, police maintain traffic safety

Matt Gardner
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The latest traffic safety blitz from SGI and provincial and local police forces aims to raise public awareness of dangers facing motorists and pedestrians at intersections.

Daily Herald

Taking place across Saskatchewan on Feb. 14 and 15, Operation Crossroads will focus on traffic safety at intersections. However, police will also be looking for other infractions.

“This is a topic I think we focused on … last January as well,” SGI media relations manager Rebecca Schulz said.

“We do know that more than 40 per cent of collisions in Saskatchewan do take place at intersections, and of course that is both things like failing to stop at stop signs, running red lights, not yielding to oncoming traffic for pedestrians, and of course pedestrians jaywalking. They’ll be looking for all of those different types of things.”

First initiated in the fall of 2011, Saskatchewan’s monthly traffic safety blitzes are intended as a way to increase awareness of different road safety issues.

Every three to four months, representatives of SGI, the RCMP and municipal police forces meet to discuss what traffic safety issues to focus on. They use recent statistics to decide what issues warrant priority status.

“We have a vested interest in traffic safety, of course,” Schulz said. “We want to make sure that the roads are safe for all Saskatchewan people. So our goal is to work together with our law enforcement partners to do that, and this is one way of doing that.

“We do work a little bit more on the promotions side and kind of co-ordinating the traffic safety blitzes, as well as gathering all the results province-wide to make sure that we can issue those numbers out for media.

“Media has been another partner that has been hugely beneficial in these blitzes, because the whole point of it is to raise awareness.”

The blitzes, also known as Selective Traffic Enforcement Programs (STEPs), involve the co-operation of different law enforcement organizations, sometimes pulling members from one jurisdiction to another. SGI generally pays for accommodations in such cases.

We want to make sure that the roads are safe for all Saskatchewan people. So our goal is to work together with our law enforcement partners to do that. Rebecca Schulz

RCMP Cpl. Sol Puentespina said that different police forces co-ordinate their actions to make sure they don’t wander into the wrong jurisdiction while enforcing the Traffic Safety Act.

“For Weyburn or Prince Albert for example, we have an understanding with Prince Albert Police Services … that if we see anything going on, we don’t have to call them,” Puentespina said.

“We can just do it ourselves, because you don’t want to step on people’s toes or anything. But … when it comes to traffic, we’re all doing the same job and we look pretty much for the same things.”

While SGI plays a key role in promoting the blitzes, it tends to stay out of the way when it comes to the actual execution.

“From our point of view, SGI assists in planning and organizing the monthly focus of law enforcement agencies from across the province,” Prince Albert Police Sgt. Kelly McLean wrote in an email.

“February is ‘Intersection Safety’. At the end of the month we submit statistical data in terms of enforcement (as does every other agency) and SGI releases those stats.”

One of the ways police forces can shift resources to traffic blitzes while avoiding negative repercussions in other areas is by relying on volunteer work.

Puentespina said that many RCMP members volunteer on their days off to help out with traffic safety program such as Operation Overdrive.

“They’ll call us … because a member will have the financial signing authority, and then they’ll approve the project as long as they say how many members are coming out,” he said.

“There’ll be a mix of members who are off-duty and members who are on-duty doing these blitzes.”

Organizations: RCMP, Prince Albert

Geographic location: Saskatchewan

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