Coalition working to make local highways safer

Debbie Hammond, executive director of the Coalition for Safer Alberta Road, tests her driving skills inside an AMA driving simulator called the “Roadbot” during the “So, You Think You Can Drive?” challenge event in the Centre 2000 parking lot on Tuesday afternoon. Peter Shokeir / Daily Herald-Tribune

Share Adjust Comment Print

The Coalition for Safer Alberta Road brought awareness to its cause by inviting local elected officials, the RCMP and industry partners to put their driving skills to the test.

The “So, You Think You Can Drive?” challenge event featured an AMA driving simulator called the “RoadBot” at the Centre 2000 parking lot on Tuesday afternoon. The simulator tests a driver’s ability to manage road safety issues, such as a tire blow-out or wildlife encounter. Guests could also try on drunk googles.

Simon Paradis with Shell Canada serves as board chair for the coalition.

“Today is our first official launch in Grande Prairie,” Paradis said. “The coalition is a non-for-profit, community-based organization. It brings industry, government and community partners together in an effort to prevent highway fatalities through education and advocacy.”

The coalition works to achieve its mandate through driver education and advocacy in addition to advocating and collaborating with government for highway improvements.

“When we started digging into the statistics of Highway 40, it was clearly amongst the worst highways in the province from a collision (and) from a fatalities perspective, especially in the winter,” Paradis said. “We decided as a coalition that through advocacy and through date-driven exercises that we should actually concentrate efforts on Highway 40 first and then migrating towards Highway 43 subsequently.”

Initially known as the Coalition for a Safer 63 and 881 in 2010, the coalition later collaborated with the newly formed in the Grande Prairie region, Safer 40 and 43, to create Coalition for Safer Alberta Roads in 2018.

File: Motorists drive past a Highway 40 sign south of Grande Prairie, Alta. Aaron Hinks / SunMedia

According to the coalition, the 190-kilometre stretch between Grande Cache and Grande Prairie saw 12 fatal collisions and 149 serious collisions between 2012 and 2016.

Coalition vice-chair Ryan Paulgaard, who is also with NuVista Energy, emphasized the important of this coalition for industry.

“We have a number of individuals who travel these roads on a daily basis and their biggest concern is getting to and from work on a daily basis,” Paulgaard said. “Participating in coalitions like this, it allows us to get the word out—education, advocacy, working with government agencies to try to improve these highways as well. It’s good learnings for industry too because we contribute to a lot of the traffic on these roads.”

Paradis noted that Alberta Transportation serves in an advisory function for the coalition. He added that the two entities and other partners would work together to determine which potential highway improvement had the highest priority.

Alberta Transportation recently published a two-year program for Highway 40 improvements, such as rumble strips, lighting and widening of the road.

“That’s the next best thing next to a full twinning of a highway, of course, which is what everyone would hope for,” Paradis said. “But this is a very tangible step towards improving the safety of the infrastructure.”

More information is available at saferalbertaroads.ca.

Comments