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August 2009
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Can we make the roads safer?

Not surprisingly there was another traffic accident on highway 401 this morning. It was almost in the centre of Toronto, in the Yonge Westbound Express lanes. As reported by CP24 a tractor trailer plowed into the guard rail dumping 200 litres of diesel fuel across the highway and seriously damaging the guardrail. The result for commuter’s traffic mayhem as they all had to squeeze through the collectors while Ministry of Transportation of Ontario cleanup crews dealt with the mess.

Are the highways safer?

I have to say that as I mature I’m finding the roads to be more frightening. Compared to the average person I do drive a lot, and lots of it is on multi-lane highways and more semi-urban/rural 2-lane highways. I just don’t feel as safe on the roads anymore.

According to the statistics accidents causing death were down by 29% from 2007 to 2008 and the total number of overall crashes decreases by 21%, but still amounted to 16,274. And compared to the 10-year average for traffic incidents, the 2008 value was 24% below the average. It would appear that the roads are getting safer.

Programs in place making our roads safer

Several programs were implemented this year in an attempt to make the roads safer. To name a few

What more can be done

Is it ever enough? As a perfectionist I think that there is always more that can be done to make the roads safer. For instance

  • Closing the highway: during heavy rainstorms or other extreme weather incidents the highways should be shut down, stop the cars on the side of the highways and don’t permit others to get on the roads.
  • Variable Speed Limits: Have speed limits that vary throughout the day, the highway could move at 120km/hr in the late night but be maximized to 80km/hr during daylight, peak hours
  • Variable Lanes: Force SUV’s and trucks into one lane and allow smaller, fuel efficient vehicles to have access to their own lanes. Not only is this safer it is an incentive to trade in a gas-guzzling machine for a more environmentally friendly machine.

Not surprisingly there was another traffic accident on highway 401 this morning. It was almost in the centre of Toronto, in the Yonge Westbound Express lanes. As reported by CP24 a tractor trailer ploughed into the guard rail dumping 200 litres of diesel fuel across the highway and seriously damaging the guardrail. The result for commuter’s traffic mayhem as they all had to squeeze through the collectors while Ministry of Transportation of Ontario cleanup crews dealt with the mess.

Are the highways safer?

I have to say that as I mature I’m finding the roads to be more frightening. Compared to the average person I do drive a lot, and lots of it is on multi-lane highways and more semi-urban/rural 2-lane highways. I just don’t feel as safe on the roads anymore.

According to the statistics accidents causing death were down by 29% from 2007 to 2008 and the total number of overall crashes decreases by 21%, but still amounted to 16,274. And compared to the 10-year average for traffic incidents, the 2008 value was 24% below the average. It would appear that the roads are getting safer.

Programs in place making our roads safer

Several programs were implemented this year in an attempt to make the roads safer. To name a few

Truck Speed Limiting Devices

Stricter Drinking and Driving Laws

Increased and Focused Enforcement

What more can be done

Is it ever enough? As a perfectionist I think that there is always more that can be done to make the roads safer. For instance

Closing the highway: during heavy rainstorms or other extreme weather incidents the highways should be shut down, stop the cars on the side of the highways and don’t permit others to get on the roads.

Variable Speed Limits: Have speed limits that vary throughout the day, the highway could move at 120km/hr in the late night but be maximized to 80km/hr during daylight, peak hours.

Variable Lanes: Force SUV’s and trucks into one lane and allow smaller, fuel efficient vehicles to have access to their own lanes. Not only is this safer it is an incentive to trade in a gas-guzzling machine for a more environmentally friendly machine.

Comments

Comment from Ryan Oakley
Time March 22, 2010 at 5:18 am

Variable speed limits?? Don’t most transportation engineers know that changing the number on the speed limit signs don’t significantly affect driver behavior – let alone road safety?

Comment from Sasha
Time March 22, 2010 at 11:00 am

Agreed. Simply changing the posted speed on a road doesn’t necessarily altere driver behaviour. Transportation engineers design roads for a certain speed. Ever feel like on a road posted at 50km/hr that you should be able to drive faster? It’s likely that the transportation designed the road at 100km/hr and the traffic engineer signed it at 50km/hr.
But changing highway speeds during peak and off-peak hours would improve road safety. Drivers would be discouraged from weaving and speeding during peak times if the speed was decreased.