Quebec coroner calls for driver drowsiness alerts

A Quebec coroner is calling for mandatory alertness detectors in vehicles after finding driver fatigue to be the primary factor in a crash that killed three cyclists in 2010.

Recommendation comes in wake of triple fatality

A Quebec coroner is calling for vehicles to have mandatory devices to detect driver drowsiness after his investigation found driver fatigue to blame for a horrific crash that killed three cyclists on a highway southeast of Montreal in 2010.

The coroner’s report, released Monday, found the driver of the utility vehicle that struck the three women on Highway 112 had been struggling to get used to a new night shift and hadn’t had a full night of sleep the night before.

The horrific crash, which one of the survivors described as a "bowling match," happened on May 14, 2010 near Rougemont, Que.

Six members of the Saint-Lambert Triathlon Club were training for an Ironman competition in Lake Placid, N.Y. and were cycling on the highway on route to Sherbrooke.

According to the report, they were traveling in two columns of three cyclists along a gravel shoulder which wasn't suitable for bike traffic. 

The truck that struck and killed 3 cyclists in Rougemont, Que. in May, 2010.

That's when the truck traveling in the same direction struck them from behind.

"Without knowing the cause, the sound of the first impact with a cyclist woke the driver, who steered his vehicle toward the left lane, striking two other cyclists in his trajectory," the report reads.

The police investigation found the driver was also using cruise control at the time of the crash.

Three members of the group, Lyn Duhamel, 39, Sandra De La Garza Aquila, 36, and Christine Deschamps, 44, died from internal bleeding. The three other cyclists were injured.

The investigation found the driver didn’t brake and there was no sign of mechanical failure with the vehicle. There were also no drugs or alcohol found in his system.

The driver of the truck was not charged in connection with the deaths.

Coroner Dr. Andre Dandavino made several recommendations, including:

  • That Transport Canada require manufacturers to equip vehicles with system for detecting drowsiness and loss of alertness of drivers.
  • That Transport Quebec consider adding paved shoulders for any road upgrade where there is high density traffic.
  • That Quebec's automobile insurance board Increase educational campaigns on the dangers associated with cruise control, including the "risk of [lulling] motorists into a false sense of safe driving and reduce their vigilance when driving."
  • Reinforcement, through safety campaigns that cyclists are required by law to ride single file when sharing the road with vehicles.