Corridor safety committee formed following B.C. highway crashes

KAMLOOPS, B.C. — A curvy stretch of B.C. highway between Kamloops and Merritt got a little attention recently after a handful of accidents involving heavy trucks.

According to the B.C. Trucking Association, some truckers were taking the corners on Highway 5A too fast and the irresponsible actions of a few drivers have resulted in local pressure to ban trucks from the highway.

Instead, the BCTA has joined up with a few other organizations to form a new corridor safety committee, in an effort to keep truck traffic along the route and improve safety along the highway.

There were 39 crashes on the Highway 5A corridor in 2005, down to seven for 2009. In contrast, there have already been five incidents in 2010, all involving commercial vehicles (three involved a single commercial vehicle only).

The BCTA says the crashes are completely avoidable by simply slowing down and driving safely.

The RCMP and the Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement (CVSE) branch have already stepped up enforcement in the area and have reported a marked reduction in speeding, but the committee is also considering engineering and educational measures to ensure the safety of all travellers on Highway 5A.

Joining the BCTA on the new corridor safety committee are representatives from the provincial government, the RCMP, ICBC, WorkSafeBC and the Trucking Safety Council of BC. The committee is already implementing an action plan to encourage driving with due care and attention throughout the Highway 5A and driving appropriately in the curves.

As part of the action plan, the committee says the RCMP and CVSE will continue to coordinate targeted enforcement based on traffic and enforcement statistics. During the initial period of enforcement 38 speed violation tickets were issued to commercial vehicles.

As for the engineering component, it was noted that over the years the brake check area on the corridor has been extended, there have been added guard rails and improved signage in order to improve safety.

As well, in reaction to recent incidents, there was a speed reader board installed at the south end of Shumway Lake, to encourage drivers to slow down for upcoming curves in the highway. The committee is also suggesting additional options including: curve sign enhancement, reflectors, rumble strips, shoulder enhancements and additional temporary and permanent speed readers.

For education, the committee is developing a communications strategy to increase awareness among drivers about the dangers of speed and inattentiveness on Highway 5A. Based on a committee recommendation, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has already begun development of a Highway 5A Corridor Safety gateway sign, similar to the one created for the Fraser Canyon Corridor.

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