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Behind-the-Wheel

We need another sign

I live near a section of Highway 19 that travels through a built-up area.

The highway changes from four lanes divided by a barrier with a posted speed of 90 km/h to four lanes that is not divided posted at 60 km/h. So few people slow to 60 that I often hear long time locals asking new residents if they have gotten a speeding ticket there yet.

Before the median barrier was installed, this 60 km/h zone was part of the highest collision zone policed by Central Vancouver Island Traffic Services.

A couple of afternoons ago, there was a two-vehicle collision in that 60 zone that blocked northbound traffic.

I posted details on Facebook in a local residents' group as there was no path around the collision scene and traffic would be held up until emergency services dealt with the situation.

The post triggered a discussion that included frustrated comments on how difficult it was to get onto the highway from side roads and that drivers regularly failed to stop for the traffic light in the middle of the zone.

Since this is a high-collision area, it was also suggested that the appropriate authority be contacted to have a sign to that effect posted with the hope that drivers would slow down.

Which would you rather do when turning left from a stop sign: cross two lanes of traffic to enter a third lane when everyone is travelling at 60 km/h or at 90 km/h?

Why is that such an easy choice when you are turning from a side road, but not when you are the through traffic?

I've seen some novel ways to cope such as turning into the oncoming left-turn lane and then moving right into the through lane.

The traffic lights at the intersection are preceded by advance warning signs. One would think that if the drivers were paying attention, red-light running would not occur.

Having said that, I wonder if the advanced warning lights are timed for drivers who are obeying the speed limit. If they are, the lights will not come on soon enough to provide sufficient warning for those that remained at 90 km/h (or more).

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) installed a dynamic speed display sign on the southbound side of the zone. It is unfortunate that the area is not covered by a traffic count station so that we can see if there has been an improvement or not.

There is some indication of high-collision area signs for wildlife having an effect on driver's speeds, but I was not able to find data not related to wildlife.

Do you suppose that drivers who don't obey the 60 km/h speed signs will pay more attention to a high collision area sign? Perhaps.

About a decade ago, I attended an open house hosted by the MOTI. They presented four plans for public comment on modifications to this stretch of highway so that drivers could travel through safely at 90 km/h instead of having to slow to 60 km/h.

Aside from the installation of some median barriers, no other construction has taken place.

That decade has also seen the average annual daily traffic volume increase from 27,740 to 30,848 vehicles.

Of course, until the budget is found for changes, the simplest way to make this highway safer is for us all to share it unselfishly. If we slow to 60 km/h and stop properly for the red light, chances are good that there will be fewer collisions like this one. 

Story URL: http://www.drivesmartbc.ca/unsafe-driving-practices/we-need-another-sign

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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