One by one, vehicles travelling along the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH) near Cochrane Pond, just outside St. John's, were clocked from the overpass above by an officer operating a speed-indicating lidar gun.
Suddenly, it detects an SUV zooming past at 140 km/h. Upon seeing the reading, RNC Const. George Carter immediately radios ahead to police officers, who are parked at the roadside about a kilometre ahead. The SUV is pulled over and the driver issued a ticket.
It was one of more than 50 speeding tickets that were handed out by that point early Tuesday afternoon along areas of the TCH, where RCMP and RNC officers worked together for a joint effort to enforce speed limits and the move-over law.
"We're still seeing people totally disregarding speed limits and travelling at extremely high rates of speed … especially on the TCH," said RNC media relations officer Geoff Higdon, who added many motorists are also not obeying the move-over law. "Unfortunately, we're seeing a lot of tragedy on our roadways in the last several years."
Provincial move-over legislation was put in place in 2014 and strengthened in June 2018 as a means of protecting police officers, emergency services workers (such as paramedics or firefighters) and the general motoring public. The enhancement required drivers to reduce their speed by 30 km/h below the speed limit and, when safe to do so, move to an adjacent lane when approaching law enforcement or other emergency vehicles that are stopped at the roadside.
RCMP media relations officer Corp. Jolene Garland said many motorists still aren't getting the message.
"We're still seeing (speeding) on a day-to-day basis," she said. 'I'm not really sure why that is happening. I can only comment that it is happening and it certainly is putting a safety concern out there for us."
Reminding the public to adhere to speeding and move-over laws is especially fitting for officers today — the one-year anniversary of the death of a colleague.
RCMP Const. Francis Deschenes, 35 — who was from New Brunswick, but was stationed in Nova Scotia — was killed on Sept. 12, 2017, when he stopped on a New Brunswick highway to provide roadside help to a motorist who had a flat tire, and a van crashed into his police cruiser. The 12-year veteran of the force, who worked in Labrador for a short time in 2017, was heavily involved in the implementation of the move-over law in New Brunswick, where it's now referred to as "Frank's Law."