Donna Tona, Team Lead, Community Mobilization Consultant contracted to Alberta Transportation, recently made a presentation to Lacombe City Council on traffic safety in Alberta.
Tona’s presentation highlighted that the Alberta combined fatal & major injury collision rate per 100,000 population has dropped from a peak of 91.5 in 2007, down to 63.4 in 2016.
This substantial drop comes despite an increase of 9.8 per cent population, an 8.9 per cent increase in drivers, a 7.7 per cent increase in register vehicles and highway volumes increasing 8.4 per cent.
“Roads are getting safer and at our office we are heavily invested in education. The other issue is that people are becoming more aware, educated and paying attention,” Tona said
Tona said drivers are more aware of many things that could cause collisions including weather conditions, how their vehicle operates, and being in less of a hurry.
Despite the drop, estimates of the social cost involved with collisions in Alberta still ranges from $4.6 billion to $10.3 billion according to a 2015 estimate by Alberta transportation.
Because of this, Tona said her divisions goal is Vision Zero, which means bringing down fatal and catastrophic collisions down to zero.
“We like to think that any Vision Zero goal is realistic, but we know that it is going to take time,” she said. “People will make mistakes driving, there is not question, but the goal is to reduce it to zero. It could be years from now but that is our aim.”
Part of reaching this goal includes working with industry and municipalities like the City of Lacombe, who Tona will be working alongside for the next five years.
“Industry is working very well understanding the conditions of the roads,” she said. “There is a big Shell industry coalition in Grande Prairie and they have had great success with their partners. They are looking at ways they can reduce their footprint on the highways.
“They have approved traffic-safety driving plans and they want to get that into the community. With us working with them, it becomes more routine.”
Tona was also impressed with the City’s Master Transportation Plan
“The City has done a lot of study on traffic volumes,” she said. “They have determined their big traffic volumes are when post-secondary and high school gets out. They have determined they have some high-volume arteries and some pedestrian corridors they have paid attention to. They have also mentioned roundabouts as something they want to look at in the future.
“Those are all exciting and there is a lot of education that can go with it. It is a great plan and it is well-written.”
She added, “It has been a pleasure to come here and I look forward to working with the City of Lacombe in the years to come.”