Speed radar signs in Lac la Hache are having limited success at slowing highway traffic down.
Al Richmond, director for the Cariboo Regional District Area G, and Paul de Leur, manager of ICBC’s Road Improvement Program, were in Lac la Hache earlier this month checking the effect of speed radar signs installed at the north and south ends of town along Highway 97.
“We like these speed reader boards, especially when you come from a highway environment into a community where there are the static signs from 100 to 70 to 50 as you go through town. It’s the dynamic nature of the signs that give that message to motorists ‘oh OK, better pay a bit more attention,” said de Leur.
Richmond said that while he is still learning to interpret the data, the signs do appear to be having an impact.
“For the most part it’s helping, it’s not stopping,” he said, noting a big truck going by at 74 km/hr.
“You could put up all the signs in the world and some people just ignore them,” de Leur said.
Richmond agreed, adding that the job of highways is to move people through; the more you slow them down the more frustrated they become. If you use too many radar signs motorists begin to ignore them.
“You have to find that sweet spot,” he said.
George Lee, the owner of the Rangeland Motel, said he already noticed a positive difference since the installation of the signs.
“I’ve been here almost 12 years now and it has calmed down the highway quite a bit from what it used to be. People just kept continuing like it was still part of the highway. It’s done a great job,” Lee said.
Richmond said the RCMP agreed with Lee’s assessment.
Getting the signs installed was a joint effort between the CRD, ICBC, and the Lac La Hache Community Club to slow highway traffic down to the posted speed of 60 km/hr through town. The project took about three years to complete.
Richmond said he started off trying wanting to get a pedestrian-controlled crosswalk here and just got a flat no.
“It was like pushing 15 elephants uphill.”
The problem with pedestrian lights, he said, is they create a false sense of safety. People crossing the road assume vehicles are going to stop when they see flashing lights but this is not always the case, explained Richmond.
“So when I went looking for funding for this because obviously, this is not something the regional district does, I worked with the Lac La Hache Community Club.
‘They were supportive so we could provide funding to them,” said Richmond.
The original cost of the project was $12,000 but after buying posts and hiring an electrician to do the electrical installation, the final price came in at $14,000. ICBC covered $6000 with the CRD covering the balance.
Some people question why ICBC is spending money on roads as that should be up to the cities or highways.
“We do it because, you know, we want to be good citizens so to speak, but it’s also in our financial interest to do so.
“So what we typically do is we invest in projects where we can reduce crashes or prevent crashes so that there’s an economic benefit to ICBC,” said de Leur, adding that it is a win-win situation. Communities win as they get infrastructure and ICBC wins because of reduced crashes and reduced claims.
“It’s one of those few programs where it is kind of proven to pay for itself.”