Abbotsford Police hold traffic enforcement blitz

Distracted drivers, speeding and tailgating are among the top concerns of Abbotsford drivers.

Abbotsford Police Const. Pat Kelly talks to a driver pulled over in a traffic enforcement blitz at Mt. Lehman Road and Fraser Highway.

Abbotsford Police Const. Pat Kelly talks to a driver pulled over in a traffic enforcement blitz at Mt. Lehman Road and Fraser Highway.

Speeding, tailgating, texting and yakking on cellphones are the top traffic infractions that Abbotsford drivers complain about.

Sgt. Casey Vinet said aggressive driving and the use of handheld devices are among the most common complaints received by the Abbotsford Police Department (APD).

“We are receiving requests every day for more enforcement,” he said.

Vinet said local police will answer those pleas with traffic enforcement blitzes throughout the year. Earlier this week, the traffic and patrol section converged on the intersection of Mt. Lehman Road and Fraser Highway to identify and ticket drivers for various offences.

A total of 44 tickets were issued for things such as speeding, running red lights and using handheld devices.

The blitz also resulted in two arrests – one for prohibited driving and one for a previous domestic assault – as well as one vehicle impoundment.

Vinet said a plainclothes officer stood at the intersection and radioed infractions to officers waiting ahead.

He said it was surprising that a number of drivers were caught speeding, making illegal U-turns or using cellphones not far from the intersection – where uniformed officers and patrol cars with flashing emergency lights could clearly be seen.

“We’re finding that many of these drivers are not aware of their surroundings, and that’s a big concern,” Vinet said.

He said drivers are continuing to use handheld devices, despite new laws that came into effect a year ago. The APD traffic unit issued 380 such tickets for all of 2011, and have already handed out 175 so far this year. However, Vinet said much of that is due to the traffic squad having increased its staffing this year, with the hiring of four additional officers.

He said a common occurrence is motorists who hold their cellphone near their lap while they text during a stop.

In one such case, a plainclothes officer walked up to the car window, and the driver was so busy texting that she didn’t notice anyone was there.

Vinet said police are concerned about the inattentiveness of such drivers.

“If you take your eyes off the road for even a second, it could change your life.”

The blitzes this year include automatic licence plate recognition – the use of a specially equipped vehicle to detect stolen plates/vehicles, prohibited drivers and uninsured vehicles.

Last month, the APD presented its 2012 strategic plans and its goals for the year. Among them was to reduce traffic-related injuries by 25 per cent after recording 13 vehicle-related deaths in 2010 and four in 2011.

“The enforcement is about reducing injuries and death in our city. Too many people have been killed or seriously injured in what we believe are preventable collisions,” Vinet said.

Traffic enforcement will continue throughout the year in areas which have been identified as high-crash zones.

These top five areas are:

1. Lonzo Road and Sumas Way

2. Mt. Lehman on- and off-ramps for Highway 1

3. King Road and McCallum Road on- and off-ramps

4. Marshall Road and Sumas Way

5. Clearbrook Road on- and off-ramps