The Packet (Clarenville) : 2019-01-03

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3 THEPACKET.CA THURSDAY, JANUARY 3, 2019 NEED FOR SPEED Moose-vehicle collisions an ongoing concern in New Brunswick EDITOR’S NOTE: Charlottetown Guardian, Olscamp said fencing was also not an option as there are too many breaches and driveways along the stretch of highway - something Jeremy Trevors, a communications officer with New Brunswick’s DTI, recently confirmed. “Wildlife fencing is one way to reduce the risk of collision; however, it is not always possible,” he explained. “It is particularly difficult to install wildlife fencing on non-controlled access highways due to the number of residential and commercial accesses. Each one of these accesses would provide an entry point for wildlife.” Trevors added DTI works in consultation with the province’s Department of Energy and Resource Development in determining where to install moose fencing based on wildlife mitigation criteria, including collision statistics. The department also takes other measures to reduce the risk of wildlife collisions, such as regular brush cutting to enhance visibility on roadways and installing enhanced signage with warning lights cautioning motorists to slow down. Murphy, like Trevors, says speed can increase a person’s chances of being involved in an MVC. “I was one of them,” he said. “It was the prime time for moose, and I was travelling too fast.” He also agrees that moose fencing in the Port Elgin area is not an option. “Other than increasing the quota in moose season, I’ve got nothing. Putting street lights from here to Aulac and Port Elgin to Cape Tormentine really isn’t feasible either but it certainly wouldn’t hurt.” This is the second part of a three-part series looking at speeding and distracted driving on Atlantic Canada’s highways. See last week’s edition for the first part or visit our website to see the entire series. Part 3 will run in next week’s paper. BY SCOTT DOHERTY SACKVILLE TRIBUNE-POST SACKVILLE, N.B. A moose-vehicle collision (MVC) can happen in the blink of an eye, something Melrose, N.B., resident Shaun Murphy knows first-hand. A bus driver in the Sackville, N.B. area, Murphy was headed to work just over a year ago, along a route he had travelled many times. “I was on my way to work at about 6:30 in the morning. It was raining, dark, and I was just past the (Port Elgin) traffic circle towards Sackville. At about 100 kilometres an hour, I saw a moose stepping onto the highway out of the ditch, so I switched lanes to give him lots of room. I looked up and there was another moose standing in the lane I switched to. I hit him right on. I couldn’t have hit him more centre.” The moose Murphy hit easily weighed between 800 and 1,000 pounds. Miraculously, although the moose was killed and his vehicle was totalled and filled with glass, he walked away without a scratch. More than 400 New Brunswickers are involved in an MVC every year, according to the provincial Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DTI), with most crashes occurring between dusk and dawn when moose are hardest Travis Smart and David Jury of Tantramar Electric install flashing lights on the moose crossing sign in the Melrose area in August 2012. At the time, increased efforts were underway to reduce the number of moose-vehicle collisions in the area after three people – including a Cape Tormentine couple and a man from Charlottetown, P.E.I. – were killed. in a public meeting where then-MLA for Tantramar Michael Olscamp outlined possible options: erecting fencing, installing lighting in high moose-traffic areas and culling excess animals. In an August 2012 interview with the Sackville Tribune-Post, Olscamp said he had met with representatives of the Department of Natural Resources and Energy to suggest a moose cull. “They gave me a lot of biological reasons why we can’t do that. I asked about extending the (moose hunting) season; they can’t do that either.” And, in a 2014 interview with the to see. Collisions also more likely to occur between May and October, when the animals leave the forest to escape the flies and heat and to feed on vegetation in ditches. The only other province in Atlantic Canada where more MVCs occur annually is Newfoundland and Labrador. Prince Edward Island has no moose population, and the chance of an MVC in mainland Nova Scotia is comparatively low, as the province’s moose population stands at about 1,000, compared to New Brunswick’s more than 29,000 animals, according to Nature Conservancy of Canada data. LONG-STANDING ISSUE In New Brunswick, MVCs have been an especially common occurrence along the 20-kilometer stretch of highway between Port Elgin and the Confederation Bridge, an area the province’s DTI has deemed high-risk. Between 2006 and 2010, there were 37 MVCs along that stretch of highway. By mid-2012, three people – including a Cape Tormentine couple and a man from Charlottetown, P.E.I. – had been killed and several others had sustained minor injuries in collisions with moose, resulting How were speed limits set in Atlantic Canada? SAM MACDONALD policies set speeds on 100-series highways and in school zones. But, Croft said, the protocol to determine speed on other roads is subject to more variation, “because the physical features of a road play a role in determining what the speed limit would be.” The most important consideration is the prevailing speed. “We do something called 85th percentile speeds, something that is used throughout North America,” Croft said. “We measure a sampling of traffic under free-flow conditions. We measure to determine the speed that 85 per cent of the traffic drives below, and fifteen per cent drives above." The 85th percentile forms the ideal speed limit. “If you set the speed limit too artificially low, you basically find that most motorists won’t obey the speed limit," he said. Other physical features considered are the shape of a road, the distance drivers can see ahead and the number of pedestrians. “We also look at development density,” Croft said, which includes driveways, residences, and commercial developments. Collision rates factor heavily into speed limits. Engineers also analyze traffic volumes; the number of turns vehicles make; the number of vulnerable road users; the amount of available parking; and the number of traffic signals. Most of Croft’s work in Nova Scotia involves rural roads. “We own and maintain our rural roads, so development density and vulnerable road users aren’t as common an issue to us, as they are in significantly denser urban areas,” Croft said. “You’d not use the same kind of development out on Trunk 7 near Sherbrooke that you’d use in an urbanized area like Halifax.” Does a higher speed limit encourage more speeding? A valid question, says Cpl. Jennifer Clarke, media relations officer with the Nova Scotia RCMP. But, she says, it’s difficult to pinpoint the roads on which speeding offenses are most egregious because the number of police writing tickets in each area varies. “There’s no way to give a number or manipulate the data to truly reflect an area where more offenses happen,” Clarke said. of the road, along with proximity to driveways and municipalities. “As you have more businesses, driveways, and intersections close together, we adjust speed limits to reflect what drivers would expect, turning on and off the highway,” Yeo said. There are no controlled access highways on the island, so the lower speed limit ensures traffic can safely enter and exit highways. “You’ll see a lot of arterial highways and driveways and secondary roads right off the main highways,” Yeo said. “We have a lot of turning lanes into secondary roads and driveways, so we do have a lot of vehicles turning on and off them.” As for Nova Scotia, limits were kicked up to 110 km/h in 1997 on three 100-series highways initially: Highway 104 from Masstown to Salt Springs, Highway 102 from Miller Lake to Millbrook, and Highway 104 from the Victoria Street Interchange at Amherst to Thomson Station. At the time, speed samples were collected on highways where twinning was considered. It was determined the average speed on those roads was around 110 km/h. Another rationale for the increase in Nova Scotia was the prior success of increasing speed limits on certain highways in New Brunswick. THE CASKET ANTIGONISH D rivers behind the wheel of Coach Atlantic Maritime Bus aren't nervous as they cruise along at 110 kilometres per hour on Nova Scotia's 100-series highways. It's the slower roads that make them uncomfortable. “Going east to PEI from Aulac (New Brunswick), the highway becomes a secondary road. There’s not a lot of passing areas, and that’s where you have to be careful of cars zipping in and out,” says Mike Cassidy, president of Coach Atlantic Maritime Bus, which regularly makes trips between Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. “Secondary roads are narrower; you don’t have that extra lane. And when someone’s in a hurry to get somewhere on a secondary road where there are not a lot of solid lines and passing opportunities they can put other motorists in harm’s way.” The maximum speed limit in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick is 110 km/h – the highest in Atlantic Canada. Newfoundland and Labrador tops out at 100 km/h and in PEI, there's a 90 km/h max. Why the differences? Krista Dalton, a communications manager for Newfoundland and Labrador, says speed limit in that province are based on highway designs and is set by the Highway Traffic Act. The Department of Transportation and Works determines speeds for provincial roads while a municipality can set speed limits within its boundaries, provided it doesn’t exceed 100 km/h. Meanwhile, the maximum limit in PEI drops to 80 km/h on secondary and local roads. “Depending on the municipality and population, we have speed limits of 70, 60 and 50 km/h,” said Stephen Yeo, chief engineer for the Prince Edward Island Department of Transportation. Secondary and local road limits are based on the shape and geometry MODERN HIGHWAYS Nova Scotia’s current protocol remains the same as the 1990s. Mike Croft, an engineer with Nova Scotia Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (TIR), says provincial DID YOU KNOW? Before Nova Scotia converted to the metric system in the 1970s, the highest speed zone was 65 mph (105 km/h). According to the online provincial archive, the original recommendation in the 1970s was that the speed limit on 100 series highways be set to 110 km/h. What dissuaded the province from making the speed limit that high was the fact that the province was in the midst of the 1970s energy crisis. Since then, fuel became cheaper, more abundant, and was mixed to burn more efficiently in vehicles built to be more efficient and environmentally friendly. Since people were already, on average, driving close to that speed on those roads, that it made sense to raise the speed limit.

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