A mystery best left unsolved

Photojournalist Evan Seal was on a mission. Why were police always handing out tickets at the same spot on Highway 10? He had to find out more. It was a public service kind of thing.

When it comes to commuting, I tend to be a creature of habit.

After commuting from the Fraser Valley to work in South Surrey every day for many years, I have driven every possible way home, hoping – like many – to find that perfect balance between low stress, minimum traffic congestion and the quickest trip.

Living in Mission and having a one-way travel time of close to one hour, I tend to drive to work through as much peaceful countryside as I can, winding my way through Matsqui, Langley and eventually the pastoral countryside of Cloverdale.

Nearly every day, I drive home along Highway 10.

Over the last year, I have noticed RCMP members parked on the south side of Highway 10, just east of 168 Street.

Each day I pass by, there seems to be at least one angry motorist pulled over to the side of the road passing their driver’s licence and insurance papers through the window to a waiting officer.

While observing each corner of that intersection, I have often wondered what it is that warrants such a continuous police presence for such an extended length of time.

Maybe it’s drivers stopping on the railroad tracks on the south side of the intersection?

Possibly speeders, in a hurry to get home, running the red light?

It only seems to be an issue eastbound, as I have never seen the same police presence on the north side of the street.

I was becoming more and more curious.

So one recent week on my way home, I decided to find out.

My idea was to publish a photograph and some information letting people know how to avoid committing a traffic violation at an obvious hot spot – a public service kind-of-thing.

After all, if the police are having to hand out tickets in this one place almost every day for more than a year, motorists clearly aren’t getting the message.

I was on a mission.

Having just passed the officers, I made a left-hand turn onto 172 Street and got back onto Highway 10 and headed west.

When I reached 168 Street, I made a right, driving north, where I took a truck turnaround just north on 168 and eventually found myself southbound at the intersection of 168 and Highway 10.

Finally, the light turned green, and I moved into the intersection.

All my questions would soon be answered. Fortunately, no one was driving north, so I slowly made the left turn westbound towards the police – right into the net.

Almost instantly, an officer wearing a bright green reflective vest jumped out from behind one of the parked SUVs and directed me to the curb.

“Do you realize you just made an illegal left-hand turn?” he asked.

Dumbfounded, and having missed any signage, I tried to explain that it was actually me who wanted to talk to him, to get to the bottom of this long-standing mystery.

He clearly wasn’t buying my story.

After a few minutes he was back at my window with a ticket for $121.

Apparently, there is a sign on the traffic light – a small one – prohibiting left turns during the morning and afternoon rush hours.

All this time I had wondered. Now my wallet knew the answer.

– Evan Seal is an award-winning photojournalist with the Surrey Leader newspaper.