October 23, 2013 10:08 pm
Updated: October 23, 2013 11:48 pm

“Pace car” debate heats up as Sense BC calls out program

The cities of Langford, Vernon and Richmond are all leading the charge to reduce the dangers of high-speed traffic with a unique pace car program.

Just like on racetracks, the clearly-marked pace cars would stick to the speed limit on local roads, hopefully encouraging other drivers to do the same.

The program is completely based on volunteer drivers.

The City of Langford received a grant of $1,500 for the program from Parachute Canada, a safety organization based in Toronto.

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Parachute says their volunteers sign a “Pace Car Supporters Pledge” and proudly display the official Pace Car emblems on their car. Motorists have already signed up in Langford, according to Parachute.

After that, they drive the speed limit, hoping to encourage others to do the same.

Parachute spokesperson Julie Taylor says the pace cars increase awareness about appropriate speeds, especially in school zones and areas with lots of pedestrians.

“The aim of the program is to increase awareness around speed reduction in the communities particularly in school zones and pedestrian dense areas. By displaying the pace car window cling or bumper sticker on your car, you are actually acting as mobile speed bump, so other cars will slow down as a result of the window cling and the bumper sticker.”

Langford RCMP has so far refused to comment on the program, and Global News was not able to find a single city where the program has been used successfully.

Happy Valley Elementary in Langford has partnered with volunteers, local RCMP and the fire department to use the pace cars in their school zone.

School principal Karen Decicco says she hopes the presence of the cars will remind drivers to slow down.

“People are very aware of the speed and they are trying their best to pay attention to it, but I think this is just a gentle reminder that there’s a school here and there’s lots of children.”

Alan Lamb, Director of the Pacific Traffic Education Centre at the Justice Institute of BC, says the presence of pace cars could frustrate drivers.

“The safest thing is to keep traffic at roughly the same speed, the much discussed 85th percentile. Trying to force people behind these so-called “mobile speed bumps” could cause conflicts, anger, dangerous driving… even road rage.”

On Unfiltered with Jill Krop tonight, Chris Thompson of SENSE BC, an organization lobbying to increase speed limits in B.C., says the “pace cars” could actually become a hazard.

“If they’re doing the speed limit in school zones — that’s one thing, but if they are doing the speed limit where the posted speed limit is vastly slower than the average speed of the car, basically the sticker says ‘I am a hazard, try to avoid me as much as you can,’ and I think they are going to cause huge amounts of road rage.”

Kerry Zado, Deputy Fire Chief of Langford, who is also one of the organizers of the campaign in that city, says that if people are driving the speed limit, there are no issues.

“We’ve told the people who have agreed to do this, that if someone is tailgating or looks aggressive, or needs to get by you, pull over and let them go by. We are not trying to be the police state — that’s not what’s it about. It’s about encouraging everybody to slow down to the speed limit.”

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