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New Glasgow intersection 'nearly a real-life Death Race 2000,' says judge

A New Glasgow driver who treated a red light as a suggestion at an intersection the judge called “nearly a real-life Death Race 2000” for pedestrians has failed in his attempt to fight a ticket.

Luke Thomas Greencorn, 25, was ticketed midmorning on July 12, 2018 for failing to stop at a red light at the intersection of Provost and George streets.

“That intersection is an accident waiting to happen, given the number of motorists who carelessly sail through the red light there every hour of every day, imperilling the safety of the public — particularly defenseless pedestrians,” Pictou provincial court Judge Del Atwood said in a written decision released Monday.

“I caution myself that Mr. Greencorn is presumed innocent of the charge before the court, and he is not responsible for the actions of others. However, based on the evidence — including the testimony of Mr. Greencorn, himself — I find the prosecution to have proven guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The traffic enforcement officer who issued the ticket told the court he was parked beside the intersection when a green sedan southbound on Provost took a right on to George without coming to a full stop. The officer also got video of the event.

“The red lights remain illuminated the entire time the sedan approaches the intersection and proceeds through its turn. The recording shows the officer pulling out and stopping the sedan a short distance along George,” Atwood said in the decision, which he delivered orally Friday.

Greencorn admitted he was driving the sedan.

“Mr. Greencorn stated that he approached the intersection at what he believed to be a prudent rate of speed. He did not see any pedestrians. He saw the red light, knew it to be a red, but treated it as a yellow, meaning he believed, based on the caution sign, he needed to stop only if pedestrians were crossing the roadway; this was why he negotiated the right turn onto George without stopping,” said the decision.

The law dictates that any drivers coming to a red light must stop, said the judge.

“A vehicle approaching an intersection with a red traffic light illuminated and no green arrow must come to a complete stop before making a right turn if safe to do so, unless there is signage prohibiting a right on a red,” Atwood said. “There are no ‘rolling stops’: if one is still rolling, one is not stopped.”

Most drivers turning right on George fail to stop at the red, said the judge.

“Some might slow down a bit; most plough right on through,” Atwood said.

“Few bother to wait for pedestrians, rendering the site nearly a real-life Death Race 2000 for those on foot scurrying to get across.”

Death Race 2000 is a 1975 film about a cross-country race in which competitors scored by running over pedestrians.

The judge — who fined Greencorn $180 for rolling through the red — had a good suggestion to deal with the larger problem.

“A traffic checkpoint positioned there would likely increase the town’s ticket revenue by an order of magnitude if every heedless motorist got pulled over,” Atwood said. “It might also prevent someone getting run over.”

New Glasgow Coun. Clyde Fraser said he couldn’t recall a pedestrian being hit at the junction in the middle of downtown New Glasgow.

“It’s a busy intersection,” Fraser said Monday in an interview.

“Dangerous? It’s dangerous if people don’t abide by the law.”

Fraser — who both walks and drives around New Glasgow — had some good advice for people using both modes of transportation.

“Everybody should keep their head up,” he said. “You’ve got to go by the signal lights and observation of the risks around you in terms of cars.”

Given that Greencorn was caught on video by a traffic enforcement officer, Fraser said it’s likely that the intersection is already occasionally under random surveillance.

“They have to weigh the risks and the costs against those risks of having somebody on duty at one location over a long period of time,” he said.

“If there’s any kind of risk factor for pedestrian safety or driver safety, then you have to enforce the laws.”

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