Brian Ducharme
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Windsor, Ontario N9A 6V2

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Windsor One of the Worst Speed Trap Locations in North America

The Windsor Star August 29, 2012

Windsor has hit the radar of angry drivers everywhere  as one of North America’s top three hot spots for police speed traps.

A poll by the National Motorists Association, a U.S. driver’s rights group, reveals Windsor is the continent’s third “worst speed trap location” among cities with more than 50,000 people.

“Ontario in general seems to always pop up in our surveys,” said association president Gary Biller. “Maybe it’s that Canadian drivers are a little bit more studious, as far as they don’t like what they see and they go ahead and report it to our database. We get a lot of reports on speed traps from throughout Ontario, but Windsor particularly.”

The National Motorists Association defines a speed trap as an area with an arbitrarily low speed limit and heavy traffic enforcement.

Windsor actually dropped a spot. Last year it was ranked second worst. Flower Mound, Texas, and Livonia, Mich., take the top two spots this year based on polling of drivers from across North America. Hamilton and Mississauga round out the top five.

Tecumseh, LaSalle, Leamington and other areas surrounding Windsor also have dozens of entries from disgruntled drivers. Ontario ranks No. 1 as the worst province or state on the continent.

“Canada and particularly Ontario shows up rather prominently in our results,” said Biller.

The association used data from its website database, where drivers report speed traps.

Drivers can point out locations on the site and give commentary about why they believe those spots are speed traps. Other people can then vote on whether they agree.

Despite Windsor’s high ranking on the “worst” list, Windsor police said they don’t use speed traps. They do enforce speed limits when necessary, said Sgt. Pamela Mizuno.

“The Windsor Police Service is committed to public safety through traffic enforcement,” she said. “We don’t use speed traps. We’re just committed to traffic enforcement.”

Judging by the National Motorists Association website, many drivers don’t see it that way. The most mentioned spots around Windsor include Matchette Road near the park, Banwell Road and the areas along E.C. Row Expressway and around the WFCU Centre.

“If you go East off Lauzon Rd, past the entrance of the new areana and go over the bridge at little river, he will be just the other side of the bridge and he’s got you,” one person wrote. “Most offen with the Black unmarked car.”

Biller said you might want to watch out in those areas.

“Be aware of where these chronic areas are because law enforcement seems to park in the same places time and time again,” he said. “Our view is an informed driver is a safer driver. We don’t want drivers all of sudden reacting at the last minute by hitting their brakes, which causes other problems. If they’re aware of where these areas are, they’ll drive accordingly.”

Speed traps don’t really work, said Biller, because most people only drive accordingly when they know the cops are around.

“When the police cruiser goes, traffic goes back to its normal flow,” he said. “So you haven’t really solved anything, other than you’re passing out tickets time and time again. Speed traps tend to pop up chronically in the same location, tickets keep getting issued and nothing changes, other than money gets collected from drivers.”

Instead of setting “arbitrary statutory limits,” he said, the speed limit should be set to the “actual free flowing speed of traffic.”

“When speed limits are set well below what traffic is normally flowing at, that sets up conflict,” said Biller. “People get irritated because some of the drivers are going slower so they’ll start tailgating or changing lanes quickly. It creates that conflict. That tends to lead to more accidents.”

Windsor defence lawyer Brian Ducharme, who specializes in traffic offences, said there is a flipside to that.

“If they increase it to 120, then everybody will do 140,” said Ducharme. “That’s just too fast, I think.”

“I think 100 is reasonable, though I could certainly live with an increase on the 401, maybe to 110 or even 115, since most people are doing that anyway. Then that begs the question, is it really just a cash grab by the province to charge people with speeding?”

Ducharme said he does have a problem with so-called speed traps when the highway speed limit suddenly drops from 100 km/h to 80 km/h. That’s especially true, he said, near construction zones at times when no one is working.

“If you don’t slow down in time and you’re doing 120 in the 80 zone, or heaven forbid if you’re doing 125 in the 80 zone, you can get charged with a hefty offence,” said Ducharme. “If you’re doing 49 or 50 kilometres over, you can be charged with stunt driving. That’s a very heavy offence and they prosecute those heavily, and they want to take away your licence.”

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