Amid thawing temps, drivers rebuked for 'splashing' walkers
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Monday, February 27, 2017, 7:03 AM - Even the longest winter can have mid-season thaws, and with several parts of the country either experiencing one this past week, or looking at days of unseasonal warmth ahead, it’s time to think about what that can mean for pedestrians.
Snow is on the ground in many parts of the country, and aside from the risk of localized flooding in some areas, the wet and slushy conditions mid-melt can lead to walkers being splashed by passing cars -- sometimes with the driver not even being aware of what’s happened.
That happened to Regina resident Marshall Pelletier on Monday this past week, when a passing driver splashed him and his child with muddy, salty water, prompting Pelletier to highlight the issue to local media.
"Initially, I was quite upset," he told CBC News. "I was kind of hoping [my wife] had gotten some identifying information for the vehicle that we could pass along to police, but obviously the first concern was making sure my son was fine."
In Regina and Saskatoon, such haphazard “splashing” of pedestrians is in fact a violation of bylaws in those cities, and the Regina Police Service did actually retweet Pelletier’s plea and ask drivers for common courtesy.
However, splashing pedestrians isn’t illegal in every municipality. Officials in Toronto and Vancouver told The Weather Network that no such bylaws are on the books in those cities, though Vancouver Police Department spokesman Staff Sgt. Randy Fincham said police in that city may look into it in some cases.
“A vehicle does have the right to travel on a roadway, and if they should encounter a puddle, the option of going through it, or around it might not be viable for the driver,” he told The Weather Network. “If someone was purposely seeking out puddles, in close proximity to pedestrians, with the intention of splashing them, and we could provide evidence of that, we would take a closer look.”
On the island of Montreal, which is home to several communities including the city of the same name, splashing is also against local bylaws, though the ticket amount varies from municipality to municipality.
However, enforcement can be difficult, and often comes down to whether a police officer saw the incident in question -- after-the-fact complaints or calls can be hard to prove, Cst. Jean-Pierre Brabant told The Weather Network.
“But if a police officer sees that a vehicle is not paying attention to reducing its speed, or avoiding the amount of water or snow to dry [so as] not to splash a pedestrian, from there a police officer could give a ticket,” Brabant says.