The Ontario Provincial Police want motorists to slow down on Ontario highways.
During the first 15 days of 2018, 26 people have died on Ontario highways — that’s up from seven during the same period last year.
Const. Roop Sandhu said that represents a 271-per-cent increase.
“I don’t know the numbers yet, but the majority of them would be the 401,” Sandhu said.
Just about every motorist on the 401 has had a hair-raising experience or seen bad driving. Diane Bachelor is no exception. “This big huge honking truck, just, no lights, no nothing, all of a sudden just pulled out,” Bachelor said.
Clint Lawrence said he tries to leave extra space between himself and the vehicle in front of him, but it can be an exercise in frustration. “I try to make room, but then people take that spot and I’m stuck,” he said.
The trend overall is that fatalities are increasing on Ontario highways.
Two years ago in the Eastern region, 61 people were killed. Last year, that number jumped to 79.
Sandhu said that’s why drivers need to slow do,wn particularly in the winter months. “The roads could change instantly from one area — could be clear roads up to icy roads within a matter of hours.”
Eastern Ontario mayors are asking for the province to step in to improve safety on the 401.
Gananoque Mayor Erika Demchuk said they’ve been asking for changes, such as electronic signs that could be used to reduce speed limits during bad weather.
“I think that the fines should be more. I think that you should lose your licence. I think that we have to be starting to be held responsible for what’s going on,” Demchuk said.
Demchuk said a long-term solution would include six lanes on the 401 from Kingston all the way to the Quebec border.
Despite mayors lobbying the province for the last year, she said no progress has been made. “Looking at it now means that maybe by 2025 or 2026, they’ll actually be able to start doing something about it.”
Eastern Ontario mayors are also asking the province to pull transports off the highway in bad weather conditions if the trucks are hauling hazardous materials.