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When a new protective services specialist – more commonly known as a bylaw officer – was hired in September by the Town of Hay River, one of the many goals was to get more drivers to obey stop signs.

Just about anyone who has driven in Hay River for any length of time will know that obeying stop signs appears to be considered optional by many motorists.

It’s hard to understand why that is so. A red sign with one word – STOP – seems to be clear enough. It means to stop, just to be absolutely clear.

However, some drivers just begrudgingly slow down at a stop sign, and only stop in theory. Some others blow right through stop signs as if declaring their independence from oppressive government regulations.

Of course, some others do stop like they are supposed to, look for oncoming traffic and move when it is safe to do so.

That doesn’t seem to be too much to ask of all drivers.

However, what is witnessed on the streets of Hay River is something else altogether.

Like a car going full speed – actually well over the speed limit – through a stop sign on Lepine Road, across Woodland Drive a few feet in front of another vehicle, and into the parking lot of NorthMart before disappearing behind the arena.

And then there’s the car that was second in line behind another vehicle at the four-way stop near the fire hall. When the vehicle at the stop sign moved through the intersection, the second car followed right behind. Apparently, there might be some kind of secret group discount for stop signs.

There was not an accident in that instance because another motorist going through the four-way stop was attentive and covered up for a bad driver.

Then there are the drivers who go through stop signs while looking directly at other motorists bearing down on them. Those are the strangest. It seems to be a motorized version of chicken.

The best thing that can be said about drivers blowing through stop signs is that they may have been temporarily distracted or they have just made a mistake.

At worst, those who ignore stop signs are doing so quite intentionally.

If those people are pulled over by the new bylaw officer, it’s difficult to have any sympathy for them.

And it appears the bylaw officer has been busy doing just that.

During the Oct. 26 online meeting of town council, Ross Potter, the town’s director of protective services, said new bylaw officer Travis Rosborough has been keeping busy.

In particular, Potter noted that the town is “definitely” seeing an improvement in drivers stopping at stop signs.

That is good to hear.

In a town as small as Hay River and with such minimal traffic, there is no reason to roll through or blow through a stop sign in the name of being in a hurry. Any travel-time savings would probably amount to only seconds in this community.

On the other hand, actually coming to a halt at stop signs would make the streets safer for everyone.

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Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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