Faster speeds bad for winter

The frequency of incidents over the last four weeks involving commercial vehicles is alarming, though not atypical.

The frequency of incidents over the last four weeks involving commercial vehicles is alarming, though not atypical.

What is different this year are the new, higher speed limits along Highway 1.

In this week’s front-page story, Alex Cooper  explores what elements may have been at play in the slew of recent incidents, including one fatal, involving transport trucks on the Trans-Canada Highway near Revelstoke.

Though weather was a primary contributor, speed is a particular point of interest, as we are now into our first winter with the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s newly posted speed limits, which include single-lane sections where the limit jumped from 90 to 100-km/hr.

The ministry says it’s too early to comment on whether or not the increases are having an impact. We suggest it’s not helping matters.

In December 2010, the province stepped up commercial vehicle inspection, targeting vehicles without proper winter tires and chains. In a one-week period that month, there were 10 serious motor-vehicle incidents near Revelstoke, six of which involved tractor-trailers going out of control.

Yes, weather was a factor. However, as some seasoned local truckers point out, inexperienced and/or impatient drivers, both of commercial and passenger vehicles, are also an issue – arguably the biggest.

There are always those for whom the need for speed overrides a rational of driving to weather conditions. This might be the result of a self-absorbed attitude or work pressures, or a slew of other reasons, which are all moot when a speeding vehicle has gone out of control and drifted into the ditch or the oncoming lane, resulting in a collision.

Four-laning the TCH from Kamloops to the Alberta border may improve driving conditions. But attitudes and inexperience are a personal matter and, simply put, a higher speed limit only enables already bad drivers, regardless of what kind of vehicle they’re in, to further press their luck – potentially at the expense of others.

 

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