Cops to treat car, cyclist offenders equally tough

Drivers whine to police about cyclists, and vice versa.

But both pose a problem for cops as many perpetrators, downtown, especially, continue running stop signs and red lights.

As cops prepare to zero in on offenders, “we’re going to be treating everybody equal,” said Ottawa police Sgt. Mark Gatien from the traffic escort unit.

City cops issued 97,918 traffic violations last year and there were 24 fatalities from collisions, according to the 2012 annual report.

It’s unclear, though, how many of these incidents involved failing to stop.

Citizens for Safe Cycling president Hans Moor said the organization “strongly discourages running red lights and stop signs. It hardly saves you any time so why put your life at risk?,” said Moor.

A tricky intersection for riders to negotiate is in front of the Chateau Laurier on Wellington St., said Moor.

“There is traffic on all sides and lights everywhere,” he said.

Across the city, “the number of drivers running red lights with high speeds definitely needs attention. We see it every day,” said Moor.

Ottawa paramedics, on average, handle 20 crashes with injuries daily, said spokesman J.P. Trottier.

“We see a lot of these collisions, and you know what? They’re all preventable. That’s the frustrating part for paramedics,” Trottier said.

Many accidents are caused by “impatience and a lack of respect,” he said

Nonetheless, compared to 20 or 30 years ago, injuries involving motor vehicle collisions are a lot less serious.

“Vehicles nowadays have a lot of protection for frontal impact,” said Trottier.

“The side impacts on vehicles are a bit more dangerous right now … If a driver is not bracing, it can twist your neck around and essentially break your neck and kill you.”

On the flip side, one thing most people don’t realize, Trottier said, is pedestrians and cyclists struck by vehicles generally make contact twice.

“There is that initial impact with the vehicle, but there’s a secondary impact (with the ground) by flying off the car, usually,” he said.

If the patient is conscious enough, they’ll instinctively put their arms out “and that’s when we see the fractured wrists and clavicles, or upper or lower arm fractures,” said Trottier.

As for cyclists, the most serious cases are “head injuries, by far,” Trottier said.

“Bones heal, but brains don’t heal very well.”

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

@ottawasunkroche

http://www.ottawasun.com/2013/04/30/cops-to-treat-car-cyclist-offenders-equally-tough

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