Motor vehicle collision stats see huge increase

by Derek Cornet

After a spike in motor vehicle collisions last year, the Rural Municipality of Meadow Lake council discussed solutions to stem the increase at its Feb. 11 regular meeting.

Meadow Lake fire chief Neil Marsh addressed council at the meeting, providing an overview of the services the organization provides to the RM. The information in the report showed motor vehicle collisions in the RM skyrocketed from five in 2012 to more than 25 in 2013. While Marsh said many of the crashes were contributed to by drinking and driving, a portion involved transport trucks.

“There were several reasons for the surge in motor vehicle collisions and attending to large trucks was a chunk of that,” he said.

Marsh added with the shutdown of the railway several years ago, the number of transport trucks in the area has climbed steadily. But, he noted, the collision jump is not unique to the area. He said other parts of the province are also reporting a surge in incidents.

In an effort to find potential solutions to the issue, council discussed whether transport truck drivers have enough experience hauling product out of the Meadow Lake area. RM reeve Rodger Zuchotzki said perhaps companies hauling product should have better protocols in place to prevent collisions, adding other sectors such as the oil industry seem to have a much better safety record for keeping their fleet on the road.

“Their responsibility is not only the cargo they’re carrying, but also the people they’re driving by,” he said.

Aside from additional training, council also questioned whether hands-free devices could curb the number of collisions. However council decides to act on the the new information, Marsh added industries are always eager to enhance the safety of their operations and would most likely be willing to listen to council’s concerns.

Marsh said the fire department has been able to cope with the increase of motor vehicle collisions noting there was also a decrease in calls in other areas. In 2013, the department responded to fewer false alarms, equipment and grass fires than 2012, and did not have to respond to any smoke detectors or powerline issues. Overall, Marsh said the number of calls is comparable to last year.

Marsh also included most of the incidents the fire department responded to were along provincial highways and only account for ones they were called out to.

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