Opinion

Idiots on the loose, causing havoc on roadways

Where do I even start?

The Malahat was closed twice. Once for a fatality MVI, the other for an apparently clueless driver who decided to attempt a U-turn through a gap in the concrete barrier on the down-slope from Tunnel Hill — a gap that’s marked No U-turn and clearly reserved for police, emergency services, and the like. Multiple vehicle crash.

The B.C. Transportation Ministry also increased the maximum speed limit on 1,300 km of the province’s highways, bringing into effect the 120 kph zone. A whole 10 kph was the increase for most of the sections of highway affected during the speed review.  And while some groups and organizations thought it was a bad idea, really all it did was legalize the speed every driver was already travelling.

Whenever anyone starts debating road or highway design and speed, the go-to argument is simple.

Safety.

Tragically and disappointingly, both Malahat accidents occurred on roadway that had already been improved during the past “safety upgrade.”

I’ve written in the past about divergent viewpoints regarding speed and safety on the valley’s highways, and my conclusion was that the two groups — one advocating SLOW DOWN, and the other advocating, “let us drive,” — had never been further apart.

I stand by that opinion, but there’s a new player in the game.

The idiots.

I failed to recognize the idiot factor before, mostly because the column-inches allotted to me here haven’t afforded me the luxury of addressing the driver that comes to a stop in the 80 kph fast lane and attempts to make a left turn across a double-yellow line.

So I’m wondering if we’ve finally hit rock-bottom, where we have to stupid-proof every section of road?

The previous Malahat safety upgrade, and the one happening now, are designed by professional engineers. But those engineers doing the designing, don’t have the local knowledge. And I’m not sure if they are aware of the level of stupid we have around here.

This is not a broad-brush labeling of Victoria-to-Valley commuters. Most of you are good drivers I’ve had the pleasure of travelling along side of, as we made our way home.

But millions are spent on these upgrades, and I would like to think the cheapest thing you could install would be a permanent traffic pylon that can easily be run over by police, fire, ambulance or tow services when they need to. I know these exist. They’ll pop right back up again after the fact.

For the idiots that don’t get it, I mean.

How about installing said device from the South Shawnigan turn-off all the way to past Goldstream Park?

As we all know, the Malahat is under-designed and over-capacity. The province continues to just chuck Band-Aid funding and planning at it, while pretending otherwise.

From an engineering standpoint, I’m thinking, “Let’s make it truly idiot-proof.”

Might be something to aspire to.

Jay Siska writes monthly in the News Leader Pictorial. Reach him at jaysiska@hotmail.com.

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