Motorists on ATVs who flout traffic laws in Rankin Inlet may soon by getting a nasty surprise.
Last week the head of the community’s bylaw announced the department would begin its annual crackdown on dangerous driving.
The department will only issue warnings for the next week. However, as of June 17, it will begin handing out tickets for a range of violations.
The department plans to enforce any infractions which contravene territorial and hamlet bylaws but will focus on those not wearing helmets, speeding, obeying stop signs and without licenses or registrations.
Most infractions carry a fine of $25, with the exception of excessive speeding and dangerous driving which can earn a $500 ticket and an impounded vehicle.
Of all the rules of the road, the helmet requirement and insurance have been the most contentious.
Up until this year, helmets were only required under hamlet bylaw. However, updates to Nunavut’s
Traffic Safety Act came into effect on Dec. 31, making helmets mandatory for ATV operators across the territory.
Responding to comments on a community Facebook page, Fire Chief Mark Wyatt, who is also in charge of the bylaw, stated helmets are required in town but not on the land.
“However, we do have people who have used this excuse and are still using it in town. That will get you a ticket,” he stated.
He also addressed concerns of one commenter who argued that insurance and registration do not affect road safety.
“We don’t make the laws. We follow the Nunavut traffic act. Insurance is there for a common sense reason. If you are driving and accidentally hit someone or something, you are liable for the damage. If you injure someone, including a passenger on your own Honda, you could be liable for hundreds of thousands of dollars. I would say that is a big safety concern.”
Meanwhile, during a hamlet meeting at the end of May, several councillors said they would like to look into finding ways to increase safety.
At least three councillors said they would like to have the hamlet review its traffic bylaws. Some of the items they wanted to look at were lowering the speed limit, having more school zones and adding signs to encourage people to follow the law.
The speed limit in town is currently 50 km/h unless otherwise marked. In school zones it is 20 km/h.
“Some people don’t slow down whatsoever,” said Coun. Lynn Rudd during the meeting. “I’m scared to see kids running and walking and vehicles are going almost 40.”
Council has the authority to change the hamlet’s traffic bylaws though a majority vote. They are expected to review the existing laws and debate potential changes at a future council meeting.