Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn talks to media at the corner of Alsek Drive near Aishihik Road in Whitehorse on Feb. 27 where a new mobile radar sign was placed. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Turn that frown upside down: New radar monitors drivers’ speed

The sign, complete with emojis to tell you how you’re doing, will move between 10 locations in Whitehorse

Territorial and city officials will soon know exactly how fast vehicles are travelling through different parts of town, beginning in Riverdale.

On Feb. 27, the Yukon government, City of Whitehorse and RCMP unveiled the territory’s new mobile radar sign on Alsek Drive near Aishihik Road.

With a digital smiley or frowny face, the sign tells drivers whether they are speeding or traveling within the speed limit, displaying the exact speed below the face.

The device also records the speed of vehicles and combined with targeted RCMP enforcement the goal is to alter driver behaviour and make things safer on the road, Yukon Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn told reporters at a press conference to showcase the technology.

About nine other officials from the territory, city and RCMP joined him, many decked out in new orange, high-vis vests for the occasion. Some wore hard hats.

Mostyn said the radar sign, and a second that will be coming into the city, is set to be moved between 10 different locations known as high-infraction locations in Whitehorse. The signs will be in place for about four weeks at a time before being moved to the next spot.

While the first site is in Riverdale, Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis said exactly where the signs move will not be known until they’re moved and in a new location.

“I’m looking forward to slowing things down a bit,” Curtis said, noting there’s been some success in vehicles moving slower outside Takhini Elementary School where similar radar has been installed.

Between 2011 and 2015, 36 per cent of on-road fatalities had “excessive speed” or “over the speed limit” cited as a contributing factor, Mostyn said. He did not say how many such fatalities there were in the territory at that time.

Speeding ticket convictions equate to an average of 45 per cent of all Motor Vehicles Act convictions per year. A 2018 press release from the Yukon government stated there are an average of 1,000 speeding tickets issued each year.

Mostyn said the data collected from the radar will be used to track whether it is effective in slowing vehicles down as time goes on.

Once data from all locations is collected, officials will move the radar around depending on where it’s deemed most needed.

Both Mostyn and Curtis emphasized the partnership between the Yukon government, City of Whitehorse and RCMP in the efforts to educate, build awareness, and work to modify driver behaviour.

“We have heard from residents and understand that the safety of our roadways is a top issue,” Curtis said. “The City of Whitehorse is a proud partner of this exciting and important initiative that will address traffic safety concerns.”

The territory spent $20,000 on the radar.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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