COLUMN: Police chief issues Deltans a road safety challenge

Police Chief Neil Dubord challenges Deltans to help make Delta's roads the safest in British Columbia.

Delta Police Chief Neil Dubord.

Delta Police Chief Neil Dubord.

I have a challenge for everyone that lives and works in Delta.

2016 was a devastating year for motor vehicle incidents on our roads. Delta Police responded to seven fatal motor vehicle accidents that resulted in eight deaths. Eight people, young and old who were mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, whose lives were cut short. The ripple effect of these accidents are felt for a long time both in our community and within the Delta Police Department.

When we investigate these accidents we look at all causal factors – road design, weather conditions, impairment, distraction, speed and so on. Our traffic investigators look for root causes in order to focus our prevention efforts on three things: engineering, education and enforcement.

The common thread in the fatal accidents in 2016 was not about road design or engineering; each one had some element of speed and/or distraction. And most importantly, they were all preventable.

Delta is a community that many people drive through to get somewhere. Highways 91, 99 and 17, the George Massey Tunnel, the Alex Fraser Bridge, Tsawwassen Mills and the BC Ferries Terminal all impact our community. Because of where we are situated in Metro Vancouver our roads can be very busy, and for this reason Delta Police put extraordinary effort into traffic safety.

We do targeted enforcement, we set up roadblocks to deter drinking and driving, we do speed enforcement in areas such as Nordel Way mostly to be visible and remind people to slow down, and we issue ‘positive tickets’ to youth in the community for using common sense on their bikes and as pedestrians.

Enforcement can sometimes give the police a bad rap. Some people see ‘speed traps’ and think that police should be out doing “real police work.” For those of us that have had to do death notifications, I can tell you that road safety is as real as it gets. And unfortunately, enforcement only carries us so far. There comes a point where all drivers and pedestrians must take responsibility and help.

This leads me to my challenge to you: Together, let’s make Delta’s roads the safest in British Columbia. Put away the distractions, slow down, dress appropriately and pay attention to your surroundings – and hold your family and friends accountable to this too. As a part of the Delta Police Strategic Plan, we have a goal of zero fatal motor vehicle accidents. As we complete the last year of our current plan, I want to accomplish this – and with your help, we will.

Neil Dubord is the Delta Police Department’s chief constable. He joined the DPD on June 29, 2015 after three years as chief of the Metro Vancouver Transit Police and 25 years with the Edmonton Police Service where he was the Deputy Chief in charge of Community Policing Bureau.