Saskatchewan will hire consultancy to assess Humboldt bus crash intersection

18 May 2018 3 min. read

Premier Scott Moe revealed that the province will hire an external consulting firm to provide a safety assessment of the Tinsdale-area intersection where the Humboldt Broncos bus crash happened. Politicians are calling for changes to improve the safety of the intersection – from the construction of rumble strips, to its conversion to a roundabout.

The Saskatchewan government announced that it will be hiring a private consultancy to perform a safety assessment of the highway intersection where the Humboldt Broncos bus crash occurred. On April 6th, a tractor trailer T-boned a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335, killing 16 of 29 people on board. Adesh Deol Trucking Ltd, the company which owned the truck involved, has since had its license suspended. The RCMP, however, has yet to officially comment on the cause of the collision.

The particular intersection, located north of Tisdale and locally known as Amley Corner, was previously the site of a deadly collision in 1997, when six people were killed in a crash at the intersection. Rural politicians say that they have previously called for changes to the highway crossing, arguing that it is dangerous.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe stated that a review will commence once the police have completed their investigation of the collision. “Then, we’ll be employing a private consulting firm, to do a safety assessment on this intersection, we’ll be taking the results of that very seriously,” said the premier.

The premier also remarked that it is often the case that the province hires external consultants to support highway projects. He said that the province generally assesses intersections every three to four years – though obviously the Amley intersection is a situation which requires immediate attention.Saskatchewan will hire consultancy to assess intersection where Humboldt bus crash occurredThe consultancy that is selected to conduct the assessment will analyze how dangerous the intersection is currently, and likely recommend ways to make it safer. The high-profile collision history of the intersection suggests that there will be changes to how Amley Corner is constructed in the future: both as a way to prevent future accidents, and as a way for the government to signal that it is doing its part to improve highway safety in the province.

The sparsely populated province is, according to statistics from Transport Canada, the most dangerous place to drive in the country. From 2011-2015, the average traffic fatality rate in the province was 13.2 people per 100,000 – more than double that of the national rate. Contributing factors include the often harsh winter weather of the prairie province, and the necessarily long commutes on high-speed roads of people travelling between the far-flung towns and cities of Saskatchewan.

There are, however, methods of improving rural intersections – if infrastructure budgets allow for it. At extremely low volume intersections, the improvement of sightlines and the addition of rumble strips can help improve safety. Roundabouts, which are extremely widespread in Europe, have recently gained in popularity in rural Ontario after a trial study – and have been effective in reducing the frequency of collisions.

Indeed, Opposition NDP Leader Ryan Mell suggested that the government should review a 2016 report that found that roundabouts in rural intersections decrease the number of collisions by 67%. Meanwhile, the rural municipality where the crash occurred is asking the provincial government to install rumble strips and to lower speed limits.

Whatever conclusions the selected consulting firm arrives at, it is clear that Saskatchewan politicians and citizens are anxious to improve the safety of their highways – so that a tragedy on the scale of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash never happens again.