Until recently, I had never heard of Eastside Road (between Penticton and Okanagan Falls). Then, in mid-March, I was hired to provide traffic management for an environmental survey to be conducted in the last week of March.
Before submitting any application to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to perform work on a road, I drive out there and spend an hour scouting it out. My conclusion (for Eastside Road) was it seemed similar to Westside Road (between West Kelowna and Vernon) in the sense that if you are a thrill seeker with a fast car, this road can be fun to race on.
Also, similar to Highway 97 from Peachland to Penticton, it is used by commuters to get to and from work on a daily basis.That concerned me because these are your two most dangerous types of drivers—thrill seekers and commuters. Neither show any consideration for other road users and they travel as quickly as they can.
It only took 15 minutes for me to realize my life was on the line when someone in a charcoal-coloured VW hatchback came flying down a steep hill doing 80 km/h and then came flying around the corner, only to find us setting up for the roadwork.
At that point, he had already driven past three, 48-inch-inch tall reflective bright orange signs warning him there was construction ahead and he should be prepared to stop. Following those three signs were my signs to reduce speed to 30 km/hr. But he still chose to speed—doing almost triple the posted speed limit—showing no concern or consideration for those of us working on the road.
Luckily his extremely loud exhaust warned us of the approaching danger and we all hurried off of the road. Judging by the look on his face as he nearly ran over my client, an environmental technician for an engineering firm, he loved being this type of driver and it gave him a thrill.
Sure enough, I saw him three more times—once on his way back from work that evening and again the next morning and next evening. I reported his dangerous behaviour to the Penticton RCMP and they even attended twice but were unable to catch him or the other very dangerous driver of a white one-quarter ton (pick-up) truck, likely a Ford Ranger.
They both showed complete disregard for other road users and they both travelled as fast as they could, regardless of the speed limit or the danger that come with speeding through construction zones.
I just want to warn readers who travel that road, especially those who ride bikes on it, that you really have to watch your back for drivers like this and to report dangerous drivers.
To drivers, if there is oncoming traffic, you cannot enter the oncoming lane to pass a vehicle, a street sweeper or a cyclist. If you cause an accident you will be 100% liable.
You are required, by law, to wait until you can perform that pass safely without exceeding the speed limit. There is not much that is more dangerous than passing on a blind corner. Crossing a solid line (on the road) anywhere is dangerous, especially when you cannot see around the corner.
Eastside Road is now on my top-five list for dangerous roads.
If you care about the people and families who travel this road or live next to it, you will report any unsafe driving to Penticton RCMP and you will serve as a pace car. Keep your speed under the speed limit and don’t be tempted to behave like everyone else.
Keep your eyes on the road and expect that around the next corner you will find a cyclist, a deer and an oncoming vehicle.
Ask yourself this, “At this speed, and with this limitation on how far head of me I can see, will I be able to stop in time to prevent me from killing a cyclist, a deer or another driver?”
If you cannot answer with “yes” then stop, turn around, go park your vehicle and walk home.
Increase your awareness of the dangers that come from driving over the speed limit or over 30 in residential areas by visiting Love30.ca, or VisionZero.ca.