Long weekend means tragedy for many

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Slow down out there, arrive safely

Albertans are among the hardest-working people in the country, and that could explain why everybody loves to escape for the long weekend.

But the Capital Region Intersection Safety Partnership wants St. Albert and area residents to enjoy their time off in safety.

CRISP, as it is called, is made up of 13 local government or police departments. Its goal is to have the safest intersections in Alberta. That goal could be tested this weekend, as traffic collisions are at an all-time high in Alberta during long weekends, says a CRISP news release.

City of St. Albert Transportation Supervisor Dean Schick said the city’s a strong supporter of CRISP as local residents hit the road not only around town, but across the region and province. “In regards to the collision data, this is one of the reasons we’re a member of CRISP,” said Schick Thursday.

Schick noted 70 per cent of collisions occur in intersections, compounded by the speed and sometimes odd angles of vehicles passing through. Long weekends only complicate it further by the heavy traffic.

“The one thing is, historically, long weekends end up with a large number of collisions, many quite severe,” said Schick.

Schick pointed out some sobering CRISP numbers: the 2013 May long weekend alone saw 13 road users lose their lives in 12 crashes and 54 Albertans suffered serious injuries in 36 collisions. Of the 12 fatal collisions four occurred in an intersection, one was an off-road motorcycle, one involved a cyclist, one involved a child on a patio, two involved pedestrians, alcohol or drugs are suspected in three and seatbelts were not worn in two.

St. Albert RCMP traffic specialist Cpl. Don Murray said intersections can be dangerous in St. Albert, and motorists should watch them like a hawk.

“Three quarters of St. Albert’s collisions are intersection related,” said Murray Thursday. “Four fifths of our most frequent collision locations are on St. Albert Trail.

“Our mandate at the St. Albert traffic section is to reduce serious injury collisions and fatalities by targeting causal factors, for example, speed, seatbelts and intersection offences.

“Most intersection collisions are as a result of following too close and unsafe left turns. Other infractions we focus on are distracted and impaired driving.

“We strive for safer roads through the ‘Three E’s’, education, enforcement and engineering. If I had to give any advice to drivers, it would be simply to slow down and be patient. Our last fatal collision occurred on the busiest intersection in which speed and impaired driving are believed to be factors,” added Murray.

Schick said he hopes motorists take the message to heart. “Education goes a long ways,” he said. “Ultimately, the drivers themselves have to make good decisions.”

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