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Police Forum Police Head Mod: Skidmark
Questions & info about the Motor Vehicle Act. Mature discussion only.

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Old 01-21-2009, 08:56 PM   #1
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Behind the Wheel - It's the Highway's Fault!

I visited a Facebook page this morning that is the electronic start of a movement to improve the highway in an area of Vancouver Island that frequently sees major collisions. Dividing the highway, adding concrete barriers, prohibiting turns, reducing the speed limit, installing traffic lights and other similar suggestions make up the majority of the solutions put forward by concerned people whenever events like these occur. Is this enough to address the problem?

I once asked a Ministry of Transportation engineer if the best way to reduce collisions was to build a cattle chute that removed the need for drivers to make decisions. While I do agree that engineering improvements to our highways can result in collision reductions I know that they are not the full answer to our problems. We must also pay attention to the other two E's, enforcement and education.

Having spent 20 years in traffic enforcement full time, I know the scope of the job and have had the outlook of many drivers expressed to me, occasionally in very offensive terms. One that I still remember is that of a travelling salesperson who told me that a traffic ticket was just the cost of doing business. If he had to drive at the speed limit he wouldn't have time in his day to conduct that business. Clearly, the ticket that I was issuing to him at the time was no deterrent, but it was all I could do.

I've also wondered how difficult it would be to pass a current class 5 road test. The driver examiner I asked about it told me that few adult drivers would pass easily if they were called back for a re-examination. He also suggested that the exam was the minimum standard and that a current driver should be expected to perform at a higher level of skill than someone who was obtaining their first full privileged license. After all, look at the practice and experience they should have gained over the years.

For the most part, we are very fortunate to have the highways we do and the manner in which they are maintained. Since the majority of crashes are caused by driver error or outright disobedience, perhaps we should be calling for a little more enforcement and a lot more education. Until driver attitude improves significantly no amount of engineering improvements are likely to produce a significant reduction in B.C.'s crash statistics.

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Old 01-22-2009, 07:16 AM   #2
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Skid...as a driving instructor who teaches riders the skills to pass the MST and to survive on the road, I agree 100%! I would bet that about 98% of rider who have been riding for years and never had to pass the MST, would be able to do so. They would have to surrender their licence. The problem is that a lot more is known these days about the causes of crashes and the specific skills, techniques and mindset needed to prevent them.

I teach beginner riders and 2 different levels of advanced courses. The new riders are starting from a blank page while the existing riders need to un-learn some bad habits that they never knew were bad habits. I agree that these skills need to be passed along as I see crashes every year that happened because of a lack of knowledge and training. The other ones are due to a lack of proper and responsible attitude. Crash into a rock face at 200kmh in an 80, while racing with your buddies and all the training in the world cannot over-rule the laws of physics.
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Old 01-22-2009, 11:39 PM   #3
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Great points...we have one of those "killer highways" near here, they're always talking about how the road is so terrible and people crash/die on it all the time, yet they fail to see that if those same people (or at least the people that caused the accident), had looked at the road signs and taken into account that speed limits are for that speed under OPTIMALconditions, most of these crashes would have been avoided.

There's even a facebook page dedicated to it here: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=16229932755
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Old 01-23-2009, 07:42 AM   #4
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I do agree that sometimes Highway design can contribute to the difficulty but I think of the intersection at Cedar and it being blamed for causing crashes there. The one involving the 2 waitresses killed there...the driver that hit them was just ripping along and driving dangerously when they pulled out. The van full of teens...an inexperienced L driver breaking her restrictions and possbibly distracted and theone where the woman who was passing everyone in the right lane & lost control speeding in the snow and killed her children. Human factors were involved as the causes.

I agree that the road design there is bad and requires you pay attention. Personally I think the exit from the railway overpass where the 18 wheelers merge into the passing lane on a restructed vision corner, and the other side where visibility is restricted to emerging vehicles...should be changed to right turn only. BUT...if you consider the traffic volume that goes thru there every day...tens of thousands of vehicles, and the fact that only few crashes result, then it comes down to the driver more than the road.
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Old 01-23-2009, 08:25 AM   #5
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Roads don't drive cars, people drive cars. I have yet to encounter a road that, if you follow the proper signs, can't be navigated safely. There are posted speed limits and recommended speed limits posted for almost all corners and stretches of road. I guess its easier to blame the road than it is to accept the fact that drivers need to drive properly.

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Old 01-23-2009, 09:34 AM   #6
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I honestly really hate the HWY1 onramp from Grandview. You have to merge into a lane where people are trying to turn into as well to get to the Willingdon exit. I think it's just so stupid and what's worse is you get idiots who just come to a complete stop there too sometimes.
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Old 01-23-2009, 09:44 AM   #7
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I can think of two stretches where the road is inadequate for traffic today...

- Patullo bridge (with all the container truck traffic... which wasn't an issue until the MoTH decided to remove the weigh scale at the south end). Trucks should be banned on this span, it's not wide enough for them, and..

- Hwy 1 between Revelstoke and Golden. It's reeeally bad, but that whole stretch from Sicamous to the Alberta Border could really use work: www.fixtranscanada.org. Again, too many trucks using a highway that wasn't designed for that much traffic.

Trucks rule Metro Vancouver... they're allowed pretty much everywhere. We don't have the Interstate highway system that the USA does, and now our roads are clogged with oversized containers which really belong on the railway, not on the road.

My only hope for the Patullo is the new South Fraser Perimeter Road which will move trucks faster than the side streets do.
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Old 01-23-2009, 11:03 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Berzerker View Post
Roads don't drive cars, people drive cars. I have yet to encounter a road that, if you follow the proper signs, can't be navigated safely. There are posted speed limits and recommended speed limits posted for almost all corners and stretches of road. I guess its easier to blame the road than it is to accept the fact that drivers need to drive properly.

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well not everyone is capable of controlling a car when its sliding around on ice.

so it does have to do with the road conditions.
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Old 01-23-2009, 12:31 PM   #9
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Patullo bridge (with all the container truck traffic... which wasn't an issue until the MoTH decided to remove the weigh scale at the south end). Trucks should be banned on this span, it's not wide enough for them,
In the meantime, a possible solution is not to pass them. Waiting behind for the length of the bridge is not a big deal and you won't feel squeezed.
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Old 01-23-2009, 12:32 PM   #10
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This addresses the quote below..

"Careless driving prohibited
144 (1) A person must not drive a motor vehicle on a highway

(a) without due care and attention,

(b) without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway, or

(c) at a speed that is excessive relative to the road, traffic, visibility or weather conditions."


well not everyone is capable of controlling a car when its sliding around on ice. so it does have to do with the road conditions"

It has everything to do with the driver and how they react to those conditions. If they are not capable of controlling the car then they should not be driving ? There was a utube video going the rounds showing drivers doing exactly that. Think it was in Seattle where the treehugging council voted to NOT salt the roads there to protect the environment. It showed a series of drivers, all going too fast for the slippery roads, sliding into the back of stopped cars ahead of them at an intersection. My favourites were the drivers of 2 different cars who actually jumped out of the moving cars & let them drive, uncontrolled, into the stopped vehicles ahead. One driver ended up hitti ng the ground and almost getting run over, the second was hanging onto the car door, sliding their body along the snowy ground as their car slammed into another.
From what I remember of the video, other cars on the same road were not crashing into anything. That says it all.
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Old 01-23-2009, 11:20 PM   #11
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well not everyone is capable of controlling a car when its sliding around on ice.

so it does have to do with the road conditions.
EDIT: Hadn't read zulutangos reply before I made my own, he covered every I had to say.

You should never be in a situation where you can't control your vehicle. If you are, it's your own fault. Any time you hit a stationary object, its the drivers fault. I hit a curb parking and broke my front lip. Am I going to blame the dude who built the parking lot for putting a curb there? No. Its my fault for not noticing.

You know what the air temperature is, you can figure out that when its cold, there might be ice. If you don't feel safe driving in those conditions - don't drive!
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Old 01-24-2009, 10:58 AM   #12
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In the meantime, a possible solution is not to pass them. Waiting behind for the length of the bridge is not a big deal and you won't feel squeezed.
I agree, and I'm not the type to pass regardless (I'm the guy sitting in the right lane doing the speed limit!). The speed limit over the Patullo Bridge is 50 km/h. It's a rare thing to find a driver that DOES that over the span, except when the potholes became a serious issue prior to the fire last weekend. I am constantly getting passed at extremely high rates of speed...

I find the issue is that some people are doing 90+ km/h over the Patullo... and they weave in and out... if they're getting off at the Scott Road exit, they wait til the last second to get over, and jam in front of a big truck...

Some trucks put on their four-way flashers and travel down the centre of both lanes... so no one can pass. Then Me (usually behind one) is sitting in the right lane behind it. Then some jackass in a riced-out over-lowered-with-no-suspension-travel-left Honduh Civic zooms up in the left lane, and tries to get past the truck... then jams in front of me to make the Columbia street exit.

The only enforcement I see on this bridge is at the south end, catching speeding drivers who stay on King George highway... those that exit at Scott Road can continue to do so at great speed and get away with it.
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Old 01-24-2009, 02:27 PM   #13
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Strikes me that this would be an ideal place for a permanent photo radar installation. Anyone in government think so too? Hello....
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Old 01-24-2009, 03:34 PM   #14
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I can think of two stretches where the road is inadequate for traffic today...

- Patullo bridge (with all the container truck traffic... which wasn't an issue until the MoTH decided to remove the weigh scale at the south end). Trucks should be banned on this span, it's not wide enough for them, and..
In fact, the lanes on the Patullo are narrower than modern design standards specify, and with the sharp turns, longer trucks can't navigate them without hanging over into the next (too-narrow) lane. It doesn't matter how carefully and attentively one drives, this piece of roadway is NOT UP TO MODERN STANDARDS and is NOT DESIGNED FOR THE TYPE OF TRAFFIC THAT USES IT.

For trucks using the bridge, drivers have to make special considerations - it's not a matter of following the limits and signs; extraordinary measures must be taken by the drivers. You can follow the signs and the rules of the road to the letter, and still be in danger.

So yes, there are instance where you can blame the road.

Quote:
- Hwy 1 between Revelstoke and Golden. It's reeeally bad, but that whole stretch from Sicamous to the Alberta Border could really use work: www.fixtranscanada.org. Again, too many trucks using a highway that wasn't designed for that much traffic.
That's the key: a lot of roads we use today were designed to support less traffic, or different kinds of traffic than rely on them today.
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Old 01-24-2009, 04:01 PM   #15
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In fact, the lanes on the Patullo are narrower than modern design standards specify, and with the sharp turns, longer trucks can't navigate them without hanging over into the next (too-narrow) lane. It doesn't matter how carefully and attentively one drives, this piece of roadway is NOT UP TO MODERN STANDARDS and is NOT DESIGNED FOR THE TYPE OF TRAFFIC THAT USES IT.

For trucks using the bridge, drivers have to make special considerations - it's not a matter of following the limits and signs; extraordinary measures must be taken by the drivers. You can follow the signs and the rules of the road to the letter, and still be in danger.

So yes, there are instance where you can blame the road.



That's the key: a lot of roads we use today were designed to support less traffic, or different kinds of traffic than rely on them today.
Agreed 100%.

Though I don't agree with the decision to replace the Patullo bridge (ten years from now) with a larger span... I think it should stay as it is... but be re-habilitated and re-paved, and reduced to three lanes with an alternating lane in the centre (vis-a-vis Lions Gate Bridge) for safety purposes. And, with the currently under construction South Fraser Perimeter Road... you could ban heavy trucks from the Patullo altogether (just like Lions Gate does).

I don't see the need to waste a bunch of money replacing a bridge that really should ONLY carry commuter cars.
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Old 01-24-2009, 04:53 PM   #16
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In addition to the fact that it's old and poorly designed and has ridiculously sharp curves really really crappy approaches on the north end?
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Old 01-24-2009, 05:03 PM   #17
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They're really easy to negotiate at the speed limit... I suggest you try it sometime and see!
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Old 01-25-2009, 10:58 AM   #18
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In addition to the fact that it's old and poorly designed and has ridiculously sharp curves really really crappy approaches on the north end?
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They're really easy to negotiate at the speed limit... I suggest you try it sometime and see!
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In fact, the lanes on the Patullo are narrower than modern design standards specify, and with the sharp turns, longer trucks can't navigate them without hanging over into the next (too-narrow) lane.
Again, the point: you can follow all the signage and posted limits, and it's STILL a dangerous bridge to drive because of poor/outdated design.
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Old 01-25-2009, 12:21 PM   #19
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a few weeks back some kid lost control of their Camry and spun out into the next lane in front of a big pickup just outside of "West Kelowna." All 3 passengers in the car were killed, and now the kids dad is calling for a concrete median to be put up "to prevent further tragedies on this dangerous stretch of road." Now no disrespect to the diseased here, but c'mon, it's a dead straight stretch of road, if they were driving properly for the conditions, they'd still be alive.
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Old 01-26-2009, 07:30 AM   #20
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You can use a certain amount of engineering and technology to "idiot proof" a road...but you can never "idiot proof" an idiot.
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Old 01-26-2009, 09:14 AM   #21
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^^^ hahah That's awesome!

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Old 01-26-2009, 07:01 PM   #22
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