Highway 3 was repeatedly congested near Salmo last week as a large influx of festival goers faced road blocks and increased police enforcement.
Thousands of festival goers were on their way to the Shambhala Music Festival while members of the B.C. Highway Patrol were looking for speeders and impaired drivers.
In the week leading up to the festival, which was held July 20 to 24, three impaired drivers and three prohibited drivers were taken off the road, according to a release from the Kootenay Highway Patrol. Police also issued 55 other violations prior to the festival.
There were nearly 450 contacts related to speeding and 37 of those drivers were going at least 40 km/h over the limit and had their vehicles impounded for a week.
READ MORE: Calgary man drowned at Shambhala Music Festival in BC
One excessive speed infraction led to a drug trafficking investigation. Another excessive speeder was driving a tractor-trailer through the section of the highway where the speed was reduced for the event.
On Monday and Tuesday, impaired and fatigued driving was the focus of police efforts when “a staggering 57 impaired drivers” were taken off the road, RCMP said. There were also 162 violation tickets issued for other reasons.
Alexa’s Bus and impaired driving specialist investigators from around BC were on scene and completed 85 field sobriety tests, 20 drug recognition evaluations and 11 approved screening device tests.
“Unfortunately, many drivers not attending the festival were caught up in the congestion during enforcement activities,” RCMP said in the release.
Although many festival goers were frustrated by the hold-up, police remind the public Shambhala is a private event on private land, and that organizers don’t pay for any of these extra public services.
“We really appreciated the patience of many of the people caught up in the road checks that had not attended the festival, particularly those who took the time to express their appreciation to our officers for taking the extra effort to keep our roads safe,” Insp. Chad Badry said in the release.
Considering how only a small fraction of attendees were checked on, and how most people ought to have known to expect police road blocks – Insp. Badry called the statistics from the recent enforcement efforts frightening.
“While I’m sure many had a good time in the festival, it is unacceptable to put everyone on the roadways at risk,” he said.
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