Concerns raised over trucks’ speed

Regional district will meet with the RCMP to discuss enforcement

A multi-collision incident involving three logging trucks and one car near Fort St. James left one driver dead on scene on Feb. 9

Directors of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) have decided to invite the traffic division of the RCMP for a meeting to discuss the enforcement of speed limits along Hwy. 16.

According to some RDBN directors, driving along Hwy. 16 has become unsafe due to the high speed of some trucks.

“It’s really upsetting, people in town [Fort St. James] are scared to travel,” said Tom Greenaway, Director of Electoral Area C (Fort St. James rural).

Houston Mayor Shane Brienen said today’s drivers do not seem to have the same respect for the traffic as they did in the past.

“We’re not seeing the same driver we saw 15, 20 years ago,” said Brienen. “We have a lot of great drivers in our community, but traffic has become an issue; we talk to people about it all the time.”

Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen said there should be more enforcement of speed limits on the highway.

“I drove all the way here [to Burns Lake] today and I don’t remember the last time I saw the RCMP on the road,” he said. “We’ve got to do more.”

Thiessen added that the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure should reduce the speed limit for heavy trucks to 30 km/h when passing through communities along Hwy. 16.

Kevin Cormack, whose daughter died after being struck by an oncoming loaded logging truck near Fort St. James in December 2015, has been calling for changes in what he calls a “troubling logging truck culture.” For Cormack, it all starts by increasing penalties and holding companies and their drivers accountable.

“We can only do this if we funnel more of our police resources into enforcing safer roads for everyone,” said Cormack last December.

But according to Bill Miller, Director of Electoral Area B (Burns Lake rural), the issue of safety on Hwy. 16 is not just about the drivers.

“It’s the whole picture, it’s not just the speed that they drive, but also about the [condition of the] highway surface.”

Stoney Stoltenber, acting Director for Electoral Area A (Smithers rural), agreed by saying that a big part of this issue is the quality of highways up north.

“The farther you get from Victoria, the worst the highways get in this province, and that should tell you something,” he said. “Our highways, as soon as the frost starts to go, the ground gets a little bit soft and the highways are gone because those trucks make ruts.”

“You go down to the Lower Mainland, see if they got any ruts on their highways,” he added.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure told Lakes District News that ministry engineers looked carefully at commercial vehicles speeds across the province in 2014 and found that trucks were generally already travelling “at or below posted speeds.”

“Based on this information, as well as research from other jurisdictions that have lower truck speed limits, ministry engineers concluded that posting a lower speed limit for transport trucks would accentuate the difference in speed between them and other vehicles, which may increase the risk of crashes,” said the ministry in a statement.