NANOOSE BAY — Despite diligent enforcement from RCMP and no road safety concerns from the province, the Nanoose Bay stretch of Hwy. 19 continues to see more than its share of serious crashes.
The RCMP's Central Island Traffic Services division responded to a pair of fatal collisions along Hwy. 19 in Nanoose Bay this year and several more severe wrecks, according to officer in charge Sgt. Darrin Ramey.
“It's a beautiful piece of highway. It's divided, reasonably straight, reasonably flat, but the collisions we're getting is vehicles coming in from side streets," Ramey told NanaimoNewsNOW.
ICBC data showed 48 crashes occurred on Hwy. 19 at Northwest Bay Rd. (PetroCan gas station) between 2011 and 2015, followed by 39 crashes at Superior Rd. and 24 at Ware Rd. during that same time period.
Ramey said speeding is also a major contributor to crashes in the area. He said two separate RCMP units are paying more attention to clamp down on dangerous driving.
“In a lot of the areas we're doing extra enforcement for speed, especially in the Northwest Bay Rd. area,” Ramey said.
He said it's not uncommon for their officers to have vehicles towed for excessive speeding on the highway linking Nanaimo and Parksville.
“Speed not only causes collisions, but also a minor collision turns into a major one the faster you get going.”
In response to questions from NanaimoNewsNOW, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) did not express any concerns with safety or congestion along the busy corridor.
The ministry said a new traffic light on the highway at Lantzville Rd. will likely be operational late this year or early in 2019.
Safety improvements are underway on Hwy. 19 at Superior Rd., where improved crosswalk islands will address pedestrian safety concerns, the ministry said.
MoTI data showed an average of 30,000 motorists a day currently use Hwy. 19 between Nanaimo and Parksville, which the ministry stated is roughly the same amount of traffic recorded a decade ago.
The ministry reported an increase in summer traffic on Hwy. 19 south of Parksville to an average of more than 38,000 daily motorists in 2016, up from 33,000 in 2008.
Notably, MoTI data from 2012, the most recent available, showed an average of just 10,000 motorists used Hwy. 19 (Inland Island Hwy.) north of exit 46, the first northbound exit into Parksville.
Data from the Nanoose Bay Volunteer Fire Dept. showed their crews responded to 23 traffic related incidents on Hwy. 19 so far this year. Last year the department had 40 calls on Hwy. 19 in Nanoose Bay, almost double the previous four-year average of 22 call-outs.
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