2008-03-06

Seat belts & slow chases

I just did a quick calculation in my head and damn I'm old! However, that was not the calculation that I was performing. It seems that the wearing of seat belts has been a law in AB for about 25 years now. No I didn't look it up, I was working for the RCMP when it became law and I think it was in the second year that I was stationed in Peace River. Therefore about 25 years - hence, OMG I'm old!

The reason I bring this up is there is a funny story related to the enforcement of this law. Now, the members all had to radio in from their cars when they were pulling over a vehicle for any reason and give me license tags and vehicle description as well as where they were located. So, I am dutifully writing all of this down as the female Constable relates it to me when I suddenly hear this gagging noise over the radio, then silence. She comes back on a couple of seconds later and finishes telling me where she is, but I can hear her laughing.

She does her check, I do my computer check, she lets me know she is clear and proceeding in whatever direction. An hour or so later she saunters into the comcentre where I am working away (or reading a book) and tells me that she was pulling this vehicle over for not wearing a seat belt, but she forgot to take hers off when she was getting out of the car. She damned near hung herself and had a very interesting bruise for a few days. The fellow she had pulled over, did very well in not laughing at her, so she let him go with a warning, she was laughing too hard to write a ticket anyway.


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One of the things I had to do in that job was to monitor high speed chases. I had to keep the radio repeaters open, tell the detachments that they were heading to that a chase was coming their way and write down everything that was said. This could be almost impossible depending on the circumstances of the chase and the number of vehicles involved.

I had one chase however that I couldn't help but keep up with. First a bit of geography, Peace River is located at the joining of two major rivers and the town is down in the valley. It gets pea soup fog on a regular basis there. Winter fog is especially heavy.

Some silly woman had gassed up her van, then leaving her kid in the baby seat and the vehicle running, had gone in to pay for the gas. This was in the '80's and we didn't have the remotes to lock and unlock doors like we do now, so she had left it unlocked, after all she was only going to be a minute. Well, a minute is all it takes.

I get the phone call and before I can make a radio call, I get a radio call, one of the members had pulled in to gas up so he also got the complaint. The van was heading up the south hill out of town, in pea soup fog, dispatch one of the other cars and he will stay with the mother to keep her apprised. Two cars see the van, pull in behind him and turn on their lights. No response, this guy isn't stopping for anyone.

Most of my transcript from the night was: Yes, we are still behind him, we are doing about 45 kph (28 mph for those readers from the USA), oh now, we are up to 50 kph. He just won't pull over! I can't see to get in front of him. Control, radio McLennan and have them start towards us. Tell them to be careful the hwy is covered in black ice. So I did, then I had to keep track of McLennan detachment too. About 30 minutes into this, I hear: McLennan is that you coming towards us? Yes, I think so. Turn on your over head lights. They are on! Well, I guess that's not you then. About 5 minutes or so after this, the same thing: Is that you? I can see three cars heading toward me. Yes, we see your lights now. So, McLennan pulled in front of the van forcing him to stop and they arrested the guy. The kid? Well, he slept through the whole thing.

Of course after all this time, I can't remember the call numbers of the cars that were involved, but that wouldn't make the tale any better.

For those that have never experienced it, black ice is not visible on the hwys, it just looks like a wet spot so takes you unawares. Here is the wiki description. It is very treacherous.


9 comments:

Hilary said...

Yikes! I hope that Mom learned to not leave the wee one in the car after that. I can remember spending about 20 minutes at a rest stop between Toronto and Montreal watching over a sleeping baby who was left in her car seat while her young mother and friend were inside eating. We talked to them about the risks when they finally came out to the car. The mom suggested we mind our own business because she could see the car from where she was seated. (then why didn't she come out when we kept peering into the car to look at the baby?) In retrospect, we should have phoned police.

The seatbelt gagging incident was hilarious.. or would be if I didn't do that to my own self from time to time. :]

Good post, Reb.

the Bag Lady said...

Ah, the slow-speed chase...at least the pea-soup fog gave them an excuse...

Leah J.Utas said...

Loved the low speed chase. Somehow it seems so, well, Canadian.

Frank Baron said...

I'm so relieved to hear other people have almost strangled themselves with their seatbelt!

I feel (somewhat) less stupid now.

You've done a public service Reb. Thanks. :)

Reb said...

Hilary, it amazes me that people will leave kids in cars to fend for themselves. We would occasionally get calls about children left outside bars too. it bears repeating,why do we have to have a license to drive, but not one to raise children?

Sis, yes, it was quite funny.

Leah, doesn't it though.

Frank,I usually managed to feel it tighten across my hips before it strangles me. It helps to know you aren't alone though.

Crabby McSlacker said...

What great stories! I too forget to undo my seatbelt half the time.

And it's a good thing I don't have kids or I'd probably be forgetting them too!

Reb said...

Thanks Crabby. I am sure you wouldn't forget kids, deliberately leave them, now that's another thing.

Jo said...

Thank goodness the tiny tot was okay! It fun riding along on the slow-speed chase :)

I remember when the seatbelt laws came into effect here b/c I was about 2 weeks into enjoying my first car, which was a jeep. Pretty stupid to drive in an open jeep sans seatbelt, which the officer was starting to tell me...then he noticed my bare feet. I explained that I'd just come from the beach & started to wiggle my toes so he could see the sand between them---he just groaned & let me off with a warning. I think there was sand in my head back then :)

Reb said...

Oh Jo, bare feet!?! Well, we are glad you survived the "sand in your head" period.