A B.C. woman who sounded the alarm after she narrowly avoided a head-on collision on a B.C. Interior highway due to confusing road markings says her worst fears have materialized.
Sheila McFarland says she wrote to B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation, alerting officials to a dangerous stretch of highway west of Princeton, B.C.
She owns a secondary property near Eastgate, south of Princeton.
McFarland says only a newly painted, white-dashed line, indicating a passing lane in one direction of traffic, is visible on Highway 3 near the Copper Mountain Mine heading uphill towards Hope.
The yellow line dividing traffic moving in both directions has faded or has been removed.
McFarland says the passing-lane confusion nearly led to a head-on crash with an oncoming vehicle on April 8, but her husband managed to pull back in the nick of time.
She immediately notified the ministry, but nothing was done to fix the road markings, she said. Just over two weeks later, a serious head-on crash occurred on the same stretch of highway.
Princeton RCMP Sgt. Rob Hughes says the driver of a 2012 grey Chevy Cavalier, travelling eastbound on the Copper Mine hill, crossed into oncoming traffic, striking a white 2015 Honda Civic head-on.
The latest crash occurred on Saturday, April 25, around 12:47 p.m. Both drivers, and sole occupants of the vehicles, were trapped inside and had to be extricated, Hughes said.
Hughes says the 33-year-old male driver of the grey Chevy cavalier from Chilliwack was transported to Princeton hospital, suffering from minor injuries.
The driver of the vehicle that was struck, a 66-year-old woman from White Rock, was transported to Penticton Regional Hospital and underwent surgery in the days following the accident.
BC Emergency Health Services confirmed two paramedic crews were dispatched to the scene and cared for two patients before transporting each to hospital, one in serious condition, the other in stable condition.
Hughes says while speed is believed to be the primary cause of the collision, the driver also expressed confusion to investigators about the road markings.
“The yellow line to separate the two directions of traffic was very, very faint on the road at the point of the crash, and the driver did indicate to the investigator that he didn’t see where the lane separation was and was confused about lanes,” Hughes told Global News.
“However, when you are driving on the road, you are supposed to stay to the right, not wander around all of three lanes of highway.”
Charges under the Motor Vehicle Act are being considered against the driver.
McFarland questions if the serious head-on collision could have been avoided if the Ministry of Transportation immediately acted upon her complaint.
“Even if they keep to the story of too much dirt, this is a systematic error in procedure that should be modified such that the highway is cleaned, the yellow line is drawn, and then the white lines are added,” she said.
AIM Roads, the highway maintenance contractor for the region, confirms road markings and line painting is not included in the scope of their contract with the province.
Markings and line painting are handled directly by the ministry through another contracting process.
The Ministry of Transportation says snow plowing and winter abrasives applications can cause significant wear and tear on highway line markings.
Re-painting centre lines is weather dependent, a ministry statement said, and the road must be swept of sand and dirt before the paint can adhere to the pavement.
The ministry says the yellow centre line on the section of Highway 3 between Sunday Summit and Princeton was completed earlier this week.