Clearwater mayor looking for fixes after latest Highway 5 near miss

Near miss on Highway 5

The latest near miss on a stretch of Highway 5 north of Kamloops forced a driver to pull off the road to avoid a barrelling semi.

The close call occurred just south of Clearwater along Highway 5 on Friday, and Clearwater Mayor Merlin Blackwell said that the incident is one of many that has plagued the North Thompson.

Blackwell said many drivers “aggressively” pass in that area as the straight stretch of road offers increased visibility in the middle of a 130-kilometre section of highway without a single passing lane.

“It's one of the few places you can see for probably eight or nine kilometres straight,” he said.

“A lot of risky passing through there. People coming off the side roads, or in this case they actually push somebody off the road into a right hand turn lane.”

Blackwell said the same straight stretch of highway sees many incidents at intersections, where people are hit crossing or turning onto the highway.

“There's a sort of an infamous couple of intersections there. But the most infamous one to locals is a place called Jenkins Road,” he said.

“It's right down south of that where a lot of people get T-boned or taken out trying to cross the highway because people speed so much.”

Blackwell said many of the risky passes are made by commercial vehicle drivers trying to make up for lost time and meet unrealistic timelines for deliveries.

“There's a long conversation about truckers on super tight delivery deadlines. Shipping companies are pushing them to be in Edmonton, or to arrive back in Vancouver on unrealistic timelines that don't allow for bad traffic or weather conditions or anything like that,” he said.

“It's the basic conversation that we're having right now, which is trucking industry safety and how it ties into the shipping and receiving business that's forcing these people to meet unrealistic timelines for delivery.”

Blackwell said he and Barriere Mayor Ward Stamer have been having conversations with Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth and Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Rob Fleming about this issue.

He said safety standards, training, and companies are being looked into to determine where the problem seems to be.

“That's the short term answer — the long term answer is we need more passing lanes up here,” Blackwell said.

“We need more opportunities so people aren't taking risks like that.”

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