Highway Patrol Blues

Hello Neighbor and welcome back to the Highway Patrol Blues. Summer has come and gone. No sense looking in the rearview mirror and lamenting on what once was. It?s time to look forward and hit the gas into the fall. I hope you have all survived your summer weddings, family reunions and the like.

I?ve noticed that all family reunions start out the same. The first night is full of ?Whose kid are you, who did you marry and which kids are yours?? Once you find out where you fit in the family tree, then things really start to get fun. The thing I enjoy is all of the stories that get passed on from generation to generation. Stories of runaway horses, stories of steam engines blowing up and injuring half of the threshing crew, stories of uncles lost while hunting in the bush and of course, all of those stories about misplaced slop pails and the ensuing hilarity that seems to grow as the years go by. The only thing better than the stories are the perogies and cabbage rolls.

A few years back I went to a family reunion that was a ton of fun until it was time for family pictures. I?ve come to the conclusion that ?family pictures? is just another term for ?massive family fight? complete with tears, hollers, marching orders and looks that could kill. I came from a prairie family that was very fertile; my Dad had 11 brothers and sisters and my Mom had 9 siblings. So, when the family historian tries to group people into certain genealogical formations that?s when things always go awry. Not sometimes, but always.

?OK, all of Johnny and Rosie?s kids stand here.? Shouts the self-proclaimed organizer. That is the first volley that gets the fight started. Sure enough, not only do Johnny and Rosie?s kids line up (by the way, the ?kids? are all in their 60?s, 70?s and 80?s) but so do their spouses. From a genealogical perspective, spouses are round two, not to be included in the ?pure? first round. After several sidebar discussions, it?s finally decided that yes, spouses can be included in the first round, but this time only. Then, trying to get 20 older people to lineup from oldest to youngest is the next challenge. Well, this dance goes on for a while, until that familiar phrase, ?Good enough? is finally uttered by the photographer.

I know I shouldn?t have said it, but I shouted out, ?Instead of oldest to youngest, lets take a picture fattest to skinniest!? The uncles laughed but my aunts just don?t seem to appreciate a well refined sense of humor. Next year, I?ll try to be good?

Anyway, lets get to work and see what?s shaking on the South Peace highways. There is a ton of stuff that I want to share with you, but where to start? So, lets begin with the basics. South Peace Traffic Services is made up of seven officers (five in Dawson Creek and two in Chetwynd) and one boss (Phyllis, the office manager). The patrol area is East on Highways 2 + 49 to the Alberta border, North on the Alaska Highway to the Kiskatinaw Bridge (near the South Taylor hill brake check), South to Tumbler Ridge and East to Powder King. In total there are over 1100 kilometers of pavement that we patrol.

The officers include one sergeant, five constables who are responsible for the majority enforcement, and one accident reconstructionist. The reconstructionist is the guy who holds the smart end of the measuring tape. His job to ?reconstruct? the accident, to determine speeds, vehicle placement on the road, occupant placement inside the vehicle and a host of other factors that figure into a crash. He attends the scene of serious collisions for hours on end, photographing, measuring, testing road conditions etc. Once his report is complete, it is used as a basis for any charges that might be forwarded.

It should be noted that the Highway Patrol units are paid for by the provincial government. Their mandate is all numbered highways OUTSIDE of municipalities. The words ?numbered highways? is very important. In the South Peace, numbered highways include Highways 97 North, 97 South, 52 N and 52E (Heritage) and Highway 2. That?s right, technically patrols should not include any municipality. Nor do patrols include graveled side roads, rural areas and the like. This does not mean that we don?t patrol these areas, it?s just that they are not the primary focus.

In future columns, we will cover topics such as impaired drivers, new legislation regarding vehicles, licenses and the like. We will also delve in depth into such questions as, ?Who gets the money from all of the tickets?? and ?Why do you guys always tow my vehicle?? and my favorite, ?If I cry, will you give me a warning?? OK, here?s your warning…If you cry, your mascara will run and you?ll look horrible all day at work and people will keep on asking you if your cat died. There, you?ve been warned.

We?ll talk again next week The Good Lord willing. Until then, keep it between the ditches.

Sgt. Kurt Peats