REGINA – May long weekend signals the unofficial start to the Saskatchewan travel season, but it’s also notorious for a high number of collisions.
On an average May long weekend has more than 200 collisions in the province , according to Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI).
“The first little taste of the summer to come. So of course, lots of people are on the highways throughout Saskatchewan,” said Sgt. Craig Cleary of RCMP ‘F’ Division.
As of Monday afternoon, five people lost their lives, which is the highest in six years.
On Sunday night, witnesses say they saw a woman walking in the middle of the road near the Regina weigh scale along Highway 11. The 19-year-old from Regina was struck and killed.
“(She was) walking in the middle of the highway near the divided lines that separate the two lanes of traffic that are southbound,” said Cleary.
On Friday, 23-year-old Jennifer Norman, of Foam Lake, died after her car hit a moose and then landed in a nearby body of water southeast of Wynyard, Sask.
“They’re just such a large black animal. At night, in low light, they’re very hard to see,” said Darrell Crabbe, executive director of the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation.
Crabbe says drivers will more commonly see deer and moose on the road in the fall, when the animals are on the move, compared to the spring.
“The possibility always exists out there that there’s going to be some animals moving across some highways. With increased traffic, our odds unfortunately increase with both parts of that equation,” said Crabbe.
The deadliest crash of the weekend happened Saturday on a grid road south of Punnichy, Sask.
A pick-up truck carrying six people rear-ended a grader. Two men riding in the truck died on scene while a 30-year-old woman died on the way to hospital.
The RCMP says the number of people killed on the roads this weekend is concerning.
“Even one fatal is too many,” said Cleary.
“We will make determinations whether these sorts of tragedies are preventable or if any further work can be done to hopefully reduce that (number) for future long weekends.”
According to SGI, the top contributing collision factors in Saskatchewan are distracted driving, impaired driving and speeding.
*2013 numbers are preliminary and will change as investigations are ongoing, and SGI receives additional police and coroner reports. These casualties reflect information that is known to SGI as of May 14.