With changes to Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act, a construction detour along a dangerous stretch of highway, and students back at school, now is a good time to remind motorists to slow down, be extra vigilant and follow the rules of the road.
Stop reading right there. If you’ve never heard of the rules of the road before and you have a licence, hand it over and go to driving school immediately.
This, by no means, is breaking news. This is common sense and responsible drivers should already know and be doing it.
However, having recently driven on the streets of Canmore, Banff and Calgary, it’s a constant reminder – and perplexity – of how some managed to pass a driver’s test. Boy, could I tell some stories but maybe another day.
This September has been an interesting month for the roads in Western Canada.
Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act had an important amendment come into effect for drivers to slow down and move over when approaching stopped emergency vehicles on the highway.
Motorists are now required to slow down to 60 km/h, or the posted speed limit, whichever is lower. As part of the amendment to the Traffic Safety Act, specifics were included for driving on multi-lane highways, in which vehicles in the closest lane to a stopped roadside worker vehicle, with its flashing lights on, must move over to the next lane, if safe to do so.
The change extends to roadside workers operating snowplows or highway maintenance vehicles, in addition to emergency vehicles and tow trucks.
Over in British Columbia, traffic is being diverted from one busy highway to another.
Those interested can read all about the detour in this week’s Outlook article, “Traffic diverted through Kootenay for last push of construction near Golden” (see page A5).
The breakdown is the bending and outdated two-lane highway east of Golden, B.C. is becoming modernized into four lanes. Yeah, someone in the government finally figured it was a good idea to upgrade that icy cliffhanger section of the highway that’s been a winter nightmare for decades.
The detour goes onto Highway 93 South from Castle Mountain junction to Radium Hot Springs, B.C., which, unfortunately, has become a dangerous stretch of highway in recent years.
In 2023, there have been at least four deaths on the two-lane highway and several serious accidents, including last week when a motorcyclist was badly injured in a collision with a truck.
There’s a major difference between driving confidently and driving aggressively. A confident driver thinks, observes the surroundings and acts accordingly. Aggressive drivers jeopardize their own, and everyone else's safety, by being a jackass.
For those heading west this fall and winter, a reminder is vehicles are required by law to have winter tires on when travelling on Highway 93 South from Oct. 1 to April 30.
Closer to home, as students returned to classrooms across Alberta and in the Bow Valley, now is a time to be extra aware while driving, especially in school zones, with students using sidewalks, crosswalks or exiting buses and crossing the road.
Signs around town are posted as a reminder to slow down and stop for school buses when its flashing red lights are on. Whether a driver is approaching an oncoming bus or following one, they must stop.
The key takeaway here is safety. Behind the wheel, safety should be everyone’s top priority.
Bad judgment can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, and the alternative is even worse.