Solving the Highway Problem in Canada

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Highway 17 Collision Near Raith
Highway 17 Collision Near Raith - image Facebook 905 Semis

THUNDER BAY – OPINION – Have you ever travelled to Winnipeg from Thunder Bay? Once you hit Manitoba and the divided highway starts, and the speed limit climbs to 110 km/h, it feels like it is smooth sailing headed west.

Coming east, once on hits Ontario, and the divided highway ends, and the speed limit drops to 90 km/h it can feel like going into a slowdown time warp.

Over the past winter, and again through the spring and summer, highway closures due to collisions have shut down the Trans-Canada Highway and in effect closed down half of Canada for hours at a time.

The issue is transport trucks in growing number of the cases causing shutdowns.

Ahead of the Operation Safe Driver campaign, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is citing careless and aggressive driving as the causes or contributing factors in the majority of the 4,274 collisions that have involved a large commercial motor vehicle this year.

The collisions account for 22 per cent of OPP-investigated fatal roadway collisions and mark a 40 per cent increase in transport truck-involved crashes over this time last year.

Twenty-nine (29) of the collisions were fatal, resulting in 40 people being killed. The at-fault drivers in the incidents involved both passenger vehicle and transport truck drivers. Road users sustained injuries in 503 of the incidents, with 3,311 of the crashes involving multiple vehicles.

The data is the latest reminder of the significant toll large transport truck-involved collisions have in terms of lives lost, serious injuries and disruptions in traffic and the movement of goods that are characteristic of these types of crashes on Ontario highways and roads.

What is the solution?

Right now the solution is seen as twinning Highway 17.

The real solution however is building a divided highway from coast to coast.

In Manitoba, and other provinces where there is a divided highway, if there is a collision, traffic can and is diverted around it.

Now the cost of a divided highway from coast to coast won’t be cheap.

However, contrasted to the cost of letting Canada be cut in half every time there is a major collision shouldn’t this become a focus for provincial governments and the federal government?

Some may say this is something that we can’t afford. However contrasted to the economic costs and the growing number of transport truck collisions and the deaths and injuries, this is not all that difficult a decision.

So why isn’t any level of government talking about a big bold national vision?

James Murray