As the leading voice for improving highway safety, the Ontario Trucking Association says a new designated truck route passed by Thunder Bay City Council this week will likely undermine road safety rather than strengthen it.
“OTA believes that Council’s decision to create a new truck route will not improve safety for the citizens of Thunder Bay. It appears City Council made a policy decision with many unintended consequences that will negatively impact road safety and traffic flow – particularly for local commuters on Hwy 11/17 between Red River Road and the Harbour Expressway, as well as the area of the Village of Kakabeka Falls,” said OTA president Stephen Laskowski.
As has been reported to OTA, the decades-long concern spurring the historic debate is vehicle speed of both commercial trucks and passenger vehicles in the Arthur Street and Dawson Road area. In 2018, the Ontario Trucking Association suggested the City of Thunder Bay consider utilizing the new provincial powers granted to municipalities to designate these areas as community safety zones, thereby giving the city the authority to lower vehicle speeds as well as the option to introduce photo radar.
Although there appears to be varying traffic collision statistics bandied about, the official collision data used to prepare the municipal truck route report to the City of Thunder Bay shows that the five-year average for collisions involving commercial trucks where the truck driver is at fault is 1.8 collisions per year on Arthur Street and three collisions per year on Dawson Road.
“Although we would like to see these numbers reduced to zero, based on current truck volumes in this area, these collision figures would seem to indicate that the creation of a new truck route is not necessary. If the issue is speed, then designating the appropriate areas along Dawson Road and Arthur Street as community safety zones makes the most sense and the best way to directly tackle the problem,” added Laskowski.
OTA is asking council not to not ratify the motion, thereby delaying the implementation of the proposed new truck route, until there’s proper consultation with stakeholders involving a more comprehensive statistical, safety, traffic flow and legal analysis of this proposed alternative truck route.