Crash survivor calls for passing lanes on Veterans Memorial Highway

A woman who was in a serious accident last year is rallying people to the cause of getting passing lanes installed on the road.

Pauline Quinlan aiming for 10,000 signatures on petition, government says options being considered

There have been at least six deaths on Veterans Memorial Highway in the last year and a half, which prompted Pauline Quinlan, who survived one of those crashes, to launch a petition calling for passing lanes. (Paula Gale/CBC)

A North River woman who was involved in a serious accident last year is rallying people to the cause of getting passing lanes installed on the road.

The anxiety I have just to get behind the wheel just baffles me.- Pauline Quinlan

Pauline Quinlan and her husband are still dealing with the physical and emotional effects of their crash, but are thankful every day that their young daughter wasn't in the vehicle with them at the time.

Quinlan thinks the lack of designated passing lanes encourages people to go into the oncoming lane on Veterans Memorial Highway despite road conditions. That's why she launched a petition that had more than 5,000 signatures as of Thursday morning.

Skid marks are seen on a stretch of Veterans Memorial Highway following a fatal head-on collision in May 2016. (CBC)

"Six people since May of 2016 have died on that highway in head-on collisions, there's no need," Quinlan said.

"When I leave every morning the anxiety I have just to get behind the wheel, it just baffles me. But I have to take the highway. That highway is my livelihood, I need to take it to get to work. I want my highway safe."

Looking for 10,000 signatures

Quinlan said there was a meeting in March with the province's transportation department and the Conception Bay North town council but it was decided the road didn't have enough traffic to justify passing lanes.

She doesn't buy that, especially given the recent rash of accidents, which is why she started the petition. She plans to bring it to Transportation and Works Minister Steve Crocker once it has 10,000 signatures.

"I don't say it's 100 per cent of the solution, but it will definitely help cut back on those last minute poor decisions of people who just want to pass."

In an email to CBC, the transportation department said after the March meeting it studied Veterans Memorial Highway and determined that between 6,000 and 9,000 vehicles travel the road daily.

It also said excessive speeds of between 120 and 150 kilometres per hour were recorded, especially between 6-9 a.m. and 3-6 p.m. The department says Crocker will be updating joint councils on the data and will reach out to police to discuss potential options.

Three people died Monday in a head-on crash on Veterans Memorial Highway between the Makinsons and Roaches Line exits. (Janelle Kelly/CBC)

Aggressive driving is another big part of the problem, Quinlan said. She's baffled at how fast people drive and how recklessly they pass others.

​Quinlan points to an incident earlier this week where a truck was following too close behind her. Then, the driver recklessly pulled out around her vehicle to pass and just made it in time before a transport truck zoomed by in the oncoming lane.

"People don't think. It's fine it you want to jeopardize your own life but when you have other people on that highway that want to go home, it's just not acceptable," she said.

With files from St. John's Morning Show