Canadian Consulting Engineer

Better roads means better safety

Canada's consulting engineering industry believes that it is time to consider the significant safety benefits to be achieved by building safer roads and highways, and by employing proven and emerging ...

October 1, 2002   Canadian Consulting Engineer

Canada’s consulting engineering industry believes that it is time to consider the significant safety benefits to be achieved by building safer roads and highways, and by employing proven and emerging technologies — Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) — in our vehicles and on our roadways. While significant advances have been made over the past 30 years in improving highway safety in Canada, there are still 3,000 fatalities per year and 220,000 injuries on our roads. This progress has been largely made through driver education, the enforcement of alcohol and seat belt legislation, and improved crash-resistant vehicles. Seat belt utilization in Canada now stands at 92%, suggesting that Canada is likely fast approaching the point where further safety improvements cannot be made solely through driver-behavioural modifications.

Statistics compiled by the OECD show that four-lane divided highways have a far lower incidence rate for fatal accidents than do two-lane highways. In the United States in 1997, for example, only 12% of the fatalities occurred on the four-lane divided interstate and freeway system, which carried about 40% of the total vehicle-miles travelled. Other roads and highways had a fatality incident rate four times higher than the four-lane divided highways.

The 1997 Study by Canada’s Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety concluded that 247 lives could be saved and thousands of injuries avoided each year in Canada by carrying out the recommended $17.2 billion improvement program for the National Highway System. They also estimated benefits of up to $30 billion would accrue if the improvement program were implemented.

The Coalition to Renew Canada’s Infrastructure (CRCI), of which the Association of Consulting Engineers of Canada (ACEC) is a member, has welcomed statements made by several federal cabinet ministers that the federal government should consider major investments in Canada’s National Highway System. CRCI is a broad-based public policy advocacy body. Supporting organizations include the Alliance of Manufacturers and Exporters of Canada, the Business Council on National Issues, the Canadian Automobile Association, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Construction Association, and the Trans Canada #1 West Association.


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