'You take your life in your hands': stretch of Highway 7 worries residents

Residents living near a stretch of Highway 7 between Carleton Place and Perth are questioning the safety of that stretch of road after two recent fatal collisions.

2 fatal collisions logged on same stretch of highway less than 2 weeks apart

Ontario Provincial Police investigated a fatal collision on Highway 7 west of Carleton Place, Ont., on Dec. 22, 2017, close to where another collision occurred on Jan. 2, 2018. (Eman Bare/CBC)

Residents living near a stretch of Highway 7 between Carleton Place and Perth are questioning the safety of that stretch of road after two recent fatal crashes.

On Tuesday, Nader Kawash, 28, of Carleton Place was killed in a two-vehicle collision near Ramsay Concession Road 1. A Perth man was also airlifted to hospital in Ottawa with serious injuries.

It follows another fatal crash between a transport truck and a pickup truck Dec. 22 on the same stretch of Highway 7, near Concession Road 4A.

Police haven't released the cause of either collision, but residents say speeding along Highway 7 is a serious problem.

You take your life in your hands sitting in the middle of the road waiting to turn left.- Glennis Harwig, nearby resident

"[Drivers are] doing over 100 [km/h] down that road and I think in that particular part the visibility isn't great," said Val Wilkinson, a Mississippi Mills town councillor who has represented Ramsay Ward for nearly 15 years and has lived in the area for 25 years.

"There are bends in the road. There are changes in the lanes and there are turn-offs and people aren't slowing down."

Difference between lanes unclear

Part of the problem is passing lanes that switch between eastbound and westbound lanes, intermingled with left- and right-hand turning lanes that aren't always clear, she said.

Glennis Harwig, a longtime resident who lives on a farm off Ramsay Concession Road 1, echoes that concern. When there's snow or slush on the road, it's not always clear a turning lane isn't a passing lane, she said.

"Travelling from Perth toward Carleton Place, you take your life in your hands sitting in the middle of the road waiting to turn left," she said, adding she's had multiple close calls while waiting to turn left from Highway 7 onto Ramsay Concession Road 1.

One time a transport truck was trying to pass another vehicle around a curve in the road and almost struck her, she said. "I would have been gone I'm sure."

'It's not just a speedway'

Wilkinson also questions whether Ontario Provincial Police are patrolling the nearly 35-kilometre stretch of Highway 7. She often sees them in Perth and Carleton Place, but not pulling speeders over between the two towns.

OPP could not be reached for comment.

She hopes the highway will be twinned eventually, but it's unclear if that will happen anytime soon, especially in that area. In the meantime, she wants drivers to slow down.

"Just remember you're driving through a rural area. People live there. It's not just a speedway and I think that's the problem we sometimes run into," Wilkinson said. "People are so anxious to get home from work or to get to work that they're not seeing the bigger picture."