Editorial: Dedicate police patrol to Malahat

Emergency crews call it “NASCAR Corner,” where two northbound lanes on the Malahat Drive merge to one.

Emergency crews call it “NASCAR Corner,” where two northbound lanes on the Malahat Drive merge to one, and where a scene of carnage played out on Sunday just before noon.

For reasons that aren’t yet clear, a southbound Honda SUV veered into the oncoming lane and collided head on with a pickup truck. Three Nanaimo women in the Honda died and five other people were injured.

Malahat volunteer fire chief Rob Patterson called this the worst crash he’s seen – and he should know. He and his crew have bore witness as first responders to a number of fatal and largely preventable head-on collisions over the past few years.

Under pressure from a growing death toll and a vocal campaign by safety activists in the Cowichan Valley, the provincial government has committed about $8 million to install 5.4 kilometres of concrete barriers in high-crash areas of the Malahat by the spring of next year.

Barriers, as useful as they are to curb head-on collisions, are only part of the solution to creating a much safer mountain highway pass between the Capital Region and Cowichan.

Geographical limits and high costs prevent substantially widening the roadway or building another route around the Malahat. The highway we have now is the road we’re stuck with for the foreseeable future.

That leaves the solution of lining the road with barriers and ramping up law enforcement.

Creating a dedicated Malahat police patrol was recommended by the Capital Regional District’s Integrated Road Safety Unit, which mounted a concentrated, daily campaign to crack down on speeders, and drunk and distracted drivers during the summer of 2011.

So far, funding a permanent Malahat patrol is an expense the police and province aren’t willing to foot.

Even if this latest crash wasn’t speed-related, it’s another reminder that the highway can be dangerous, and the transportation route can be severed in an instant, often for hours.

With closures, fatalities and crashes, over the long run, the most cost-effective option is placing patrols on the Malahat full time.

Just Posted

UPDATED: Man arrested on Richmond Avenue after standoff with police following ‘serious assault’

Police were called early Sunday morning following an assault in the building

VRBA warns Saanich of negative consequences if new DCC bylaw approved

Builders association says the cost of increasing DCCs will be borne by consumers

Victoria harpist releases ‘old school’ jazz album, makes singing debut

Musician ‘blown away’ by reactions to her seventh album Songs From the Harp

Victoria’s Christmas bird count set to take flight

More volunteers needed on the West Shore for Dec. 14 count

WestShore Skatepark Coalition faces uphill battle as costs jump $166,000

‘It feels like a David and Goliath situation,’ says coalition member

VIDEO: SNL skewers Trudeau’s mockery of Trump in high school cafeteria sketch

The three world leaders won’t let Trump sit at the cool kids’ table

Greater Victoria 2019 holiday craft fair roundup

Get a jump on your holiday shopping

B.C. universities post $340 million worth of surpluses thanks to international student tuition

Students call for spending as international enrolment produces huge surpluses at many universities

Conservatives urge Morneau to deliver ‘urgent’ fall economic update

Morneau says the first thing the Liberals plan to do is bring in their promised tax cut for the middle class

INFOGRAPHIC: How much money did your local university or college make last year?

B.C. university and colleges posted a combined $340 million surplus in 2018/19

B.C. creates $8.5M organization to improve safety for health care workers

Group will bring together unions, province, health care organizations

Kovrig clings to humour as ‘two Michaels’ near one year in Chinese prison

Their detention is widely viewed as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou

B.C. VIEWS: An engine that hums right along

First Nations are leading a new surge of investment in B.C.

Most Read