Letter to the editor 2, August 15, 2019
On June 13, 2019, I had the misfortune of entering the Town of Vaudreuil-Dorion. I had been driving in the dark since before the U.S.-Canada border on my way from Maryland to Montreal.
As I was nearing the town, in the dark, I was looking for the speed limit sign because I could see lights ahead. I know that I was slowing down because cars passed me on my left and I was worried that cars behind me would be annoyed at me for driving too slowly. I could see nothing but bright lights from hotels, motels, restaurants, street lights, and traffic lights, not to mention cars’ headlights. It was all very blinding! I had, after all, been driving in the dark for several hours and my eyes had difficulty adjusting to all the bright lights. I kept looking for a speed limit sign on the sign of the road while I drove more and more slowly. The next thing I knew, I was flagged down by a police car so I stopped immediately. It was 10:15 p.m.
The police officers informed me I had been speeding, going 80 km/hr in a 50 km/hr zone. I informed them I could not see the speed limit sign despite desperately looking for it and that the bright lights were blinding, making it impossible to see much of anything. He informed me it was up to me to know the speed limit to which I informed him it was up to the town to make the sign visible so I could follow the speed limit. I also informed him many cars were passing on my left. I was asked for my papers.
After 20 minutes, the police officer came back with a ticket for $195. I disagreed again and explained that I simply could not see the speed limit sign. He pointed in the general direction of the road behind me and informed me it was there (like somewhere in the air) and it was up to me to see it. I again suggested the town had an obligation to make the speed limit sign visible, especially when it’s dark with all the bright lights all over the place.
Once home, I decided to pay the fine even though I believe I’m not guilty, because I was having hip surgery in July and wouldn’t be able to drive for weeks afterwards to be in court. A 10-hour drive from Maryland is too far to argue with an obstinate policeman and a town that hides its speed limit signs. I have American license plates and was therefore good bait for the police who would know how difficult it would be for most persons to drive all the way to Montreal to argue an infraction in court.
When I told my Montreal friends I had been stopped for speeding at that spot on Harwood Boulevard, the laughed at me and said, “That’s a speed trap! Everybody knows that! It’s been going on for years and years!”
I would never recommend my friends take this route to Montreal because of the police tactics of stopping and fining people who cannot even see a speed sign, if it exists. This should be illegal, no matter how much money the ‘speed trap’ brings into the community. It is the legal responsibility of the town to make sure any speed limit sign is visible, be it daytime or nighttime.
Louise G. Roy, Ph. D.
Silver Spring, Maryland