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Why there’s no such thing as a ‘dangerous’ highway

Published November 15, 2012
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Recently, the Toronto Star reported on a protest that is ongoing in the province of P.E.I. over a road-widening and the resulting tree cutting.

The government is spending over $20 million to re-align a six-kilometre section of the TransCanada highway it deems too dangerous. It is also spending $90,000 on fencing to keep protesters away. Those opposing this widening and straightening are concerned about environmental damage during construction.

I have a problem with the government spending that much money to straighten a six-kilometre section of road because motorists keep crashing on it.

The problem isn’t the road, it’s the drivers.

More from Ian Law:

A run-in with a selfish driver on Highway 404

Deer caught in the headlights? Don’t do this

This road didn’t cause any of the 103 crashes or the two fatalities that have occurred on this section between 1996 and 2010. It was the drivers not knowing how to deal with this section of road properly.

Drivers cause crashes. Not bad weather or curvy roads, but poor driver training and judgement.

So why not take and invest that $20 million into better driver education and cure the cause instead of treating the symptom.

This sort of band-aid safety happens all across North America and not just on P.E.I.

Here in Ontario, the government spent untold millions on improving the “dangerous” road known as Canal Road near Newmarket after a double fatal crash a few years ago. In this tragic event, an SUV driver slid off the road and into the canal. Immediately, people began to condemn the road “as dangerous”. In fact the driver was talking on the cell phone when they lost control.

That wasn’t the road’s fault. That was driver error. The driver lost control.

Another such case is Hwy. 401 near Cobourg. A few winters ago there was a horrific fiery crash where the 401 makes a long sweeping bend. Again there were cries about this being a dangerous section of the 401. I have driven that section of 401 hundreds of times and there is nothing wrong with the road. The fault lies with motorists and truckers not driving to the conditions.

On Sept. 3, 1999, there were eight fatalities in an infamous crash on the 401 near the town of Lakeshore in Essex county. At around 8 a.m. that morning, several motorists and truckers drove into a thick fog and crashed into each other. In this incident people were blaming the fog or this dangerous section of road. The cause of this tragedy wasn’t fog or the road. It was the numerous motorists and truckers who continued to drive into a blinding fog. If they had been looking farther up the road and noticing vehicles disappearing into fog, common sense says don’t go there. They either failed to practise good vision technique and/or they weren’t processing their driving information.

As with the TransCanada in P.E.I., or the 401, or Canal Road, or any other road that curves or may be susceptible to wintry or foggy conditions, all motorists need to use common sense, good judgement, better driving skills and the ability to drive to the conditions.