Safer community the focus of Rockwood traffic blitz

·3 min read

ROCKWOOD – Safer roads and a safer community is at the forefront of an OPP traffic blitz in Rockwood.

Wellington County OPP traffic management unit conducted a high-visibility enforcement initiative in Rockwood targeting the “big four” offences – speeding/aggressive driving, distracted driving, seatbelt usage and impaired driving.

Staff Sgt. Darryl Porterfield said this was a response to a number of complaints on unsafe driving practices seen in Rockwood.

A previous blitz in fall 2019 saw 54 charges and Porterfield expects similar results from this one.

“We’re hoping to experience the same kind of success today and just send a message to the community that we are out here, we’re conducting enforcement and we’re trying to make their roadways safe,” Porterfield said.

This enforcement initiative was previously announced, which media officer Cst. Kirk MacDonald said raised some questions from the local community if that is counterproductive to the blitz.

MacDonald said they often announce them ahead of time and it never seems to make a difference.

“The message is sent pretty wide yet we’re still out here finding people that are driving in an unsafe manner and putting the community at risk,” Porterfield said.

“A lot of people think ‘well locals, they’re aware of the media release and change their driving behaviour on this particular day’ but our experience has shown...that many of the people were local that were charged with these offenses,” MacDonald added.

The officers both mentioned Rockwood has three elementary schools which makes addressing traffic concerns very important to avoid a tragedy

Donna Bradley, owner of the Flower Mill on Highway 7, said she shares this concern for the town’s children.

“There’s a lot of kids that cross at the lights going to school and coming home from school, I often worry about them,” Bradley said.

She said she is pleased to see a high level of enforcement from the OPP as she is sometimes shocked at how fast people are driving through town.

Guelph/Eramosa mayor Chris White said speeding and traffic issues are the most common issue he hears about from residents.

He said he’s noted living near a school a lot of people roll through stop signs in a rush to drop off their children.

“I guess it just becomes a bit of a habit, so by having more police presence and cruisers around, trying to bring attention to the safety issues I’m very happy to see that,” White said.

This isn’t just a Rockwood issue, White said this is a Wellington County problem and he thinks a population boom will just bring more cars and traffic problems to the area.

Porterfield said there have been two fatalities on Wellington County roads so far this year and the community needs to work together to stop these tragedies.

“When we’re rushing off to work, some of our actions can really affect the lives of others and we need to work together as a community, both the police, the municipal government and our residents to try to come up with some collective solutions on how we can address our traffic safety issues,” Porterfield said.

White recommends residents bring their concerns to the attention of the OPP because they may not know of specific problem streets in a catchment areas as large as Wellington County.

“The more calls they get on a specific concern, the more they’re going to put resources towards it,” White said.

“So we need the eyes of the folks out in the community to let us know where they see problems and they need to be reported to the OPP so they can respond.”

Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com