Penticton RCMP point to accident as wake up call

Logs litter the highway following a single-vehicle accident in late December. - Mark Brett/Western News
Logs litter the highway following a single-vehicle accident in late December.
— image credit: Mark Brett/Western News

Police are urging the public to use extra caution at a high-risk corner on Highway 97 at the north end of the city.

Prompting the warnings was the single-vehicle accident Dec. 23 in which a logging truck dumped its load across several lanes of the highway.

Although Penticton RCMP determined the incident was likely mechanical in nature and not speed related, Cpl. Bryce Petersen of the RCMP’s South Okanagan Traffic Services feels the crash should serve as a wake-up call to all motorists.

“Tell me why the general population is not prepared to slow down, and I don’t just mean the commercial drivers, I mean everybody,” said Petersen. “Especially now when you start getting the road conditions that we get in the winter time and as good as the maintenance people try to be as far as the roads are concerned there are limitations to the products they can use.

“People just need to learn to slow down.”

Police at the scene of the logging truck accident say it was lucky no one else was driving through the area just before 8 a.m.

A number of concerns about fully-loaded logging trucks travelling along the Eckhardt Avenue West route to the highway have been raised.

Penticton RCMP have had complaints from other motorists about high rates of speed and other dangerous driving complaints involving those vehicles.

A spokesperson for the provincial Ministry of Transportation’s Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement division are also aware of speeding concerns and complaints in the area relating to the activity of the logging trucks.

“Safety is the ministry’s highest priority,” said Elizabeth Thomson. “Staff regularly monitor and will continue to monitor and patrol this section of Highway 97 and adjacent municipal streets to enforce speeding and aggressive driving violations.”

This was the second incident involving a Webber Logging truck in just over a year, the other happened in the late fall of 2012 on Highway 3A near Yellow Lake in which another truck dumped logs on that section of roadway.

“In over 90 per cent of these accidents driver input not mechanical is the cause,” said Petersen. “I remember one time when I was up north and driver error was the cause of an accident and the logs landed on top of a pickup and both people inside died.

“Here’s a thing to think about, it’s not about you and how you drive but if you’re going down the road at 50 kilometres an hour and the guy’s coming at you at 70 kilometres an hour and a log falls off and comes at your vehicle that log is coming at you at a 120 kilometres an hour and I don’t know of a lot of vehicles that will withstand a 120-kilometre-an-hour hit and not have substantial damage.”

In spite of the known danger of the corner and the southbound signage warning truckers of the potential for flipping there continues to be accidents involving large commercial vehicles.

“So it begs the question, why aren’t those drivers adhering to the suggested speed limit?” he said.

Petersen added members of his department regularly watch the traffic signals at Red Wing, not just for speed but drivers who go through the red light.

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