Penticton travellers were lucky this holiday season. Lucky, that is, that no one was driving around the curve where Eckhardt Avenue turns into Highway 97 when a logging truck spilled its load across four lanes on the morning of Dec. 23.
A similar incident last October in Whistler didn’t turn out so well. In that case, a motorcyclist was crushed to death under the logs. Unfortunately, logging trucks incidents are far from an uncommon happening — that was the second in a month for Whistler.
In the wake of the Penticton incident, concerns have been raised about the speed logging trucks travel through town on their way to the mills. It was, it seems, just a matter of time before such an incident occurred, but let’s hope there isn’t a tragedy like Whistler’s in the offing as well.
Our intention isn’t to vilify the trucking industry as a whole, but to point out the need for stepped up enforcement from the RCMP and the Ministry of Transportation’s Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement program.
By and large, we believe the trucks on the province’s roads are well-maintained and driven, but in the trucking industry, time is money and there is always the temptation to push the limits.
Considering the road conditions and variable weather Penticton has been experiencing lately, overloading, skipping safety checks or pressing the accelerator down a little farther with a fully loaded logging truck could be a fatal mistake.
The curve where the Penticton accident occurred is a dangerous one at the best of times; it’s a sharper turn than it appears and many southbound drivers pay little attention to the speed limit change.
Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said it was unacceptable that a logging truck should lose its load in the middle of town, calling for the RCMP to review the situation.
Though Penticton doesn’t have anywhere near the same amount of logging trucks passing through as Whistler, the same RCMP attention is needed before there is a bigger tragedy.