The statistics were surprising.
While vehicles speeding through downtown might seem to be the biggest highway safety problem for Salmon Arm, that’s not where most accidents have been occurring.
Staff Sgt. Scott West gave a lively presentation to members of the Salmon Arm Chamber of Commerce Thursday, which included collision statistics based on rough data from Jan. 1, 2013 to Oct. 27, 2015.
During those 20 months, it was the highway intersections at the west end of town that saw the most problems in terms of speed, severity and frequency.
His stats showed three collisions at Ross Street, seven at Alexander, five at McLeod and five at Sixth Street NE – more rear-enders than not – while there were 33 collisions between the former Canadian Tire turn-off at 10th Avenue SW and the Salmon River Bridge.
“So where am I best to spend my time?” he said, referring to deployment of police resources.
Asked about transport trucks downtown, West said there was one involved in a collision between Ross and Shuswap during that time period.
“Contrary to popular belief, they’re not highballing through town,” he said, noting the ongoing problem is following too closely and not slowing for the lights.
“They go rattling down the road, they move all kinds of air, but they’re not going that fast…”
The chamber has put together a working group on traffic safety, which met with West in September. Stu Bradford of the Barley Station said the group wants to prevent accidents, such as the potential spill of hazardous material downtown from a transport truck collision.
West encouraged the public to inform police about their issues or questions.
“Those questions that came up, they led us to conclude something slightly different – the downtown not being as bad as the 10th to Salmon River corridor,” West remarked.
West said the three lights downtown in quick succession are problematic, adding one doesn’t meet the highway standard in terms of distance between lights. When the light’s green, he said, a transport truck doesn’t physically have time to stop at the next.
Bradford asked if the intersections aren’t to code, could the speed limit be reduced to 40 km/h.
West said the transportation ministry doesn’t allow the lowering of speeds on the Trans-Canada Highway that much, as the movement of commerce can’t be slowed.
One person attending referred to a traffic study contracted by the city a few years ago.
Coun. Kevin Flynn said one of the proposals recommended in it was to eliminate a light downtown. He said although he wasn’t on council at the time, he understands the outcry from business people downtown meant the report has so far been mostly shelved.
“If we want safety, then let’s have safety.”
Flynn said he would check the report’s recommendations.
Bradford said that his traffic group wants to compile hard data that can be shared. Like West, he said input from the public is welcome.