Slow down, judge tells out-of-province drivers

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PICTOU -  Two out-of-province men learned a quick lesson Wednesday about the high cost of stunting on Pictou County roads.

Local RCMP stopped two vehicles traveling 50 kilometres over the speed limit at two different times in the Mount Thom area in October 2013 that resulted in a total of more than $3,000 in fines.

Cameron Alexander McAskill of Prince Edward Island was stopped October 25, 2013 after RCMP clocked this motorcycle at going 178 kms eastbound on the Trans Canada Highway near Mount Thom.

McAskill entered a guilty plea to the stunting charge in Pictou provincial court but ask Judge Del Atwood to consider a fine reduction since he was just finishing up his third year of engineering at Dalhousie University in Halifax and was heavily in debt.

The fine for stunting on Nova Scotia roads is $2,412.41 and the driver’s vehicle is immediately seized. The driver receives an immediate seven-day license suspension in Nova Scotia although the registry of motor vehicles in other provinces can accept the information and do with it what they wish.  

Atwood told McAskill that many people believe that stunting involves doing “donuts” or car surfing when, in fact, it can be any vehicle travelling 50 kms over the posted speed limit.

Crown Attorney Bill Gorman said an RCMP officer was situated in his car in a median near exit 19 of the Trans Canada Highway when he heard a loud noise, similar to that of motorcycle, on the highway.  

He said McAskill’s motorcycle soon crested over Mount Thom and the officer clocked him at doing 178 kms in a 110 kms zone.  The driver of the bike quickly reduced his speed and a roadside stop was conducted during which time McAskill told the officer he was on his way to the PEI ferry in Caribou.

McAskill’s motorcycle as seized, his licence was suspended and he was given a drive to the ferry by the officer.

Atwood said stunting is taken very seriously in Nova Scotia and the hefty fine reflects that, adding that McAskill’s engineering studies should make him aware of the risks involved when travelling at such high rate of speed.

The judge said the vehicle could have experienced mechanical failure, driver error or the tires could have lost some of their pressure because of the heat generated by travelling at such a rate of speed.

“Operating a motorcycle is risky to begin with because typically motorists driving cars aren’t going to see you,” Atwood said. “ If they are travelling 110 km and you are travelling 178 kms, you are approaching slower traffic at a high rate of speed. You are putting yourself at the greatest risk.”

Atwood agreed to reduce McAskill’s fine to $1,112.41 considering that he is a student with a heavy debt load and gave him 18 months to pay the fine.  McAskill will also be prohibited from driving in Nova Scotia for the next seven days.

Next up on the docket was a New Brunswick man who was also charged with stunting on Oct. 29, 2013 on Mount Thom.

Charbel Said also asked for a fine reduction since he was a recent business school graduate of the Unversity of New Brunswick and had just started a new job with a lumber company.

“I have a substantial amount of bills and my salary is just enough to cover them,” he said.

Gorman told the court that an RCMP officer travelling towards Pictou County on the Trans Canada Highway in Mount Thom noticed three or four vehicles behind travelling at high rate of speed.

He was able to get his radar on a grey SUV that was pinpointed at doing 166 km in a 110 km zone.  Said was given a ticket and court date, the vehicle was impounded and his driver’s licence was suspended for seven days.

Said told Atwood he just graduated from business at UNB and had acquired a new job in the sales department of Brunswick Valley Lumber. He was driving his bosses’ vehicle at the time of the incident and his new boss was a passenger in the SUV when it got stopped.

“I just started a new job and had a meeting in Scotsburn,” he said. “We were running a bit late and I just wanted to make a good first impression, but I kind of ruined that.”

Said told the judge he was teased at his new workplace for getting caught speeding and having the bosses’ car impounded, but he was able to hold onto his job.

Atwood agreed to same fine reduction for Said as he did for McAskill and agreed to start his seven-day driving suspension this coming Friday so Said could has enough time to leave Nova Scotia.  Said was given 12 months to pay his fine.

“I wish you great success in your field,” Atwood said, “but the only thing I ask is that you just slow down.”

Organizations: RCMP, Trans Canada Highway, Dalhousie University Department of Brunswick Valley Lumber

Geographic location: Mount Thom, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island Pictou County Halifax New Brunswick Caribou Scotsburn

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