WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton’s chief of police is mounting an old crusade with Alberta’s new government, calling for excessive speeding legislation. Kendra Slugoski explains.
EDMONTON — The police chief is fed up with excessive speeders and has renewed his call for stronger legislation that would allow officers to seize vehicles.
So far this year, 24 people have died on Edmonton roads. In 2014, there were 23 fatalities for the entire year.
READ MORE: Man killed in rollover on the Yellowhead
In a 24-hour period this week, two people died in separate crashes. On Tuesday evening alone, officers caught five excessive speeders. One was going 141 km/h in a 60 km/h zone; another hit speeds of 140 km/h in a residential area while fleeing police.
Chief Rod Knecht says there’s been a spike in excessive speeders over the past couple of years. Officers have witnessed drivers going 80, 90, sometimes 100 km/h over the posted limit.
“There isn’t a day that goes by that the lives of innocent citizens and offenders aren’t placed in life-threatening situations by motorists driving at irresponsible speeds,” said Knecht. “To be clear, this sort of reckless driving behaviour isn’t just occurring on freeways. It’s now happening on residential streets in many jurisdictions across the province, which should be deeply concerning for all Albertans.”
So far in 2015, 277 tickets have been issued for speeding more than 50 km/h over the limit, which require a mandatory court appearance.
Knecht would like to see a law that allows police to seize vehicles and issue suspensions to excessive speeders – those going 60 km/h or more over, for instance.
The police proposal also calls for court-imposed fines and six demerit points on the individual’s driving profile. First-time offenders would have their licences suspended and vehicles seized for seven days. Second-time offenders would be penalized at 30 days and subsequent offences would translate into a 30-day licence suspension and vehicle seizure.
“We can stop someone going 60, 70, 80 over the speed limit in downtown Edmonton and then they go on their way,” said Knecht. “We give them a ticket and they go on their way. I don’t think that’s a good practice for public safety, quite frankly.”
He wants to meet with the province in the next few weeks.
Premier Rachel Notley said Friday she would listen to the police service’s proposal.
“We haven’t had a chance to formally consider it, but we’re very committed to working with our partners in law enforcement, listening to what their proposals are and to taking action that we can to help keep Albertans safe.
“We’re certainly open to hearing his submissions and we’ll see from there.”
Knecht said police in B.C. have the power to seize vehicles and officers there believe it has helped drive down speed.
“More than 75 per cent of Canadians are currently covered by similar legislation in B.C., Ontario and Quebec,” he said. “The Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police has periodically approached previous governments on this issue. We’ll be making arrangements to meet with the new Transport Minister in the near future to again discuss this important issue.”
In a statement, the transportation ministry said:
“The safety of drivers on our roads and highways is Alberta Transportation’s top priority. We are always open to hearing from law enforcement about how to make our roads safer for Albertans. Speed is a factor in many serious collisions in this province, and drivers’ actions behind the wheel can have very real and tragic consequences.
“Currently, the police have seizure powers in extreme circumstances such as careless driving or street racing. We are committed to working with law enforcement and our traffic safety partners to find solutions on our roads.”