A year ago at this time I was doing a lot of commuting between Regina and Winnipeg, and there were a number of truly scary moments on the Trans-Canada highway.
Since it has been divided all the way, it should be as safe as a highway can be, but weather and poor driving habits are the unknown factors. Most roads in Saskatchewan and Manitoba are nowhere near the quality of the Trans-Canada, and traveling on any of them seems to be getting more dangerous as time goes by.
In Saskatchewan, in the areas where potash and oil are being harvested in the booming economy, most of the roads were built decades ago. They are generally too narrow, and the pavement takes a tremendous beating from a growing number of heavy trucks. Highway deaths are up more than 30%, year over year.
In addition to less than ideal road conditions, there are the other usual suspects – drinking and driving, not wearing seatbelts, and doing everything behind the wheel except concentrating on the task at hand.
The story is very similar in Manitoba, particularly on the infamous highway 6 which carries tons of traffic to central and northern parts of the province. Manitoba Public Insurance says 160 driving deaths in the past 12 months can be blamed at least in part on drivers who were texting behind the wheel, or distracted in a wide variety of other ways.
MPI is now spending thousands of dollars on a major public awareness campaign called Your Last Words. Hopefully it will have an impact because passing tough laws doesn’t seem to work. Virtually every Canadian province in recent years has passed laws to punish distracted drivers, yet the problem gets worse, not better.
I’m so glad I’m not a commuter any more, and I try to keep a good thought for those who have to travel those unhappy trails.
I’m Roger Currie