I was driving along Elbow Drive the other day when I got accosted by an electronic sign telling me to slow down. I hadn’t realized I was going almost 10 kilometres faster than the posted speed limit. I must not be the only one with a heavy foot because the Limit Your Speed campaign has located 14 of these signs throughout the city.
The sign has made a difference. Elbow is a long stretch of straight road and it can be tempting to push the speed limit a bit, but since the sign has been installed, I pay a little more attention to my speedometer.
The solar powered radar boards are aimed to do just that — get drivers’ attention. Installed in residential neighbourhoods, the signs flash “slow down” and show the posted speed when it detects vehicles exceeding the limit.
Along with the signs, banners have been posted throughout the city with key messages. The messages are what are driving the campaign: That 25 per cent of fatal crashes involve speeding, and speeding just 10 km/h more than the limit increases the risk of death or injury by 73 per cent.
The statistics in Alberta support the need for the campaign. In 2008, 2,928 people were injured and 107 people were killed in collisions where speeding was ruled a factor.
It’s a tough campaign to sell though. Speeding is glamorized in television, movies and car advertisements. Faster cars carry more prestige and just last May, one driver was clocked at more than 200 km/h just outside of Calgary. A similar case caught headlines not even a year earlier. In August 2008, a $12,000 speeding fine was issued to a 34-year-old man who was caught ripping down the highway at 263 km/h — more than twice the posted speed limit.
If it’s not about showboating or the thrill factor, then it’s often a time crunch that can motivate the pedal nearing the metal. Getting to your destination in a sprawling city like Calgary can take a frustratingly long time. Shaving off a few minutes by speeding is a time-saving strategy that’s hard to resist.
Not only is it dangerous though, it carries the risk of a hefty fine, from $89 and more. Last year, 278,933 speeding tickets were handed out in Calgary.
The city’s campaign launched this month, speed awareness month, and will run for six months at a cost of about $100,000.