A recent fender bender has made the issue of traffic safety on Highway 1 through downtown Salmon Arm all the more personal for Jim Kimmerly.
Kimmerly, who heads the local group Prosperity 4 Salmon Arm, is renewing a call to limit transport truck traffic on the highway, between 10th Street SW and 30th Street NE, to the right lane and a speed of 40 km/h after his wife’s vehicle was struck twice from behind by a semi.
In a June 14 email to the Observer, Kimmerly explains how earlier that day, his wife was driving on the highway in the right lane through the downtown corridor when a semi in the left lane pulled into the right lane to pass another truck, leading to the collision.
“The driver never stopped so she called it in and the police stopped the vehicle in Sicamous,” said Kimmerly. “The driver said she had cut him off and he was not aware he hit the car.”
While there were no injuries, the vehicle sustained damage in the incident.
Kimmerly feels changing the speed limit for commercial tractor-trailers and limiting them to the right lane (except for when turning left) will help change driving habits.
“Most drivers are good but there is an element that is not, and it would send a message to them that something has changed and we want to have these drivers drive in a more respectful manner, a safer manner, coming through our town,” said Kimmerly. “Not many communities like ours have 1,500 commercial vehicles go through it every day, and it’s only a small number that breach that.”
Kimmerly called for the same changes in January, after surveillance video from a local restaurant became public. Taken on the morning of Dec. 24, 2017, the video shows a city bus edging out into the TCH/Shuswap Street intersection after the light had turned green and a semi tractor trailer running the red light and colliding with the front left corner of the bus.
City engineer Jennifer Wilson said Salmon Arm’s traffic safety committee received a letter suggesting commercial vehicle traffic be restricted to the left lane. She said ICBC and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure commented that such a change in one short jurisdiction would cause confusion as most truckers are not local.
“So to have them coming through and switching the rules on them would realistically cause more harm than good. That was their perspective on that,” said Wilson.
On Monday, July 9, council chose to reconsider its decision to approve safety improvements proposed for a section of the downtown highway corridor. No decision will be made until after the October municipal election.