Saskatchewan considering limiting turns at deadly Highway 11 intersection

Doug Wakabayashi with the Sask. Department of Highways says they are waiting for a review of the fatal accident on Highway 11 and Wanuskewin Road before making decisions on the intersection.

Fatal accident claimed lives of Van de Vorst family this weekend

Emergency crews at a fatal crash on the corner of Highway 11 and Wanuskewin Road. (Saskatoon Fire Department)

A fatal crash that claimed the lives of a Saskatoon family of four has renewed calls for a review of the deadly intersection at Highway 11 and Wanuskewin Road.

While the provincial government said it won't react until the collision has been reviewed, the Ministry of Highways said it is considering its options.

Catherine McKay, 49, is charged with impaired operation of a motor vehicle causing death after a Sask. family of 4 was killed 1:47

Local drivers, including the Mayor of Warman, have said that limiting turns at the intersection would make the area safer.

"Certainly, converting that intersection to right-turns only is something that can certainly be considered," said Ministry of Highways spokesperson Doug Wakabayashi. "It's not something that could be done simply or quickly because it's a busy intersection, there's a lot of traffic on all legs of the intersection."

Wakabayashi said any changes to area traffic would not happen easily.

"We can't just go in and fundamentally alter traffic patterns without consulting the City of Saskatoon, the neighbouring municipal governments and other stakeholders."

Wakabayashi said the long-term plan is to close the intersection down completely, once the proposed Perimeter Highway is built around Saskatoon. A start date for the project has not been announced.

"The long term plan for that intersection, once the Saskatoon Freeway is developed, is to close that intersection," he said.

Jordan and Chanda Van de Vorst and their two children were killed in a weekend highway crash. (Facebook)
Early Sunday morning
RCMP said a Hyundai Elantra was travelling west on Highway 11 when it was hit by a Jeep Wrangler SUV attempting to cross the highway on Wanuskewin Road.

Jordan and Chanda Van de Vorst, their two-year-old son, Miguire, and their five-year-old daughter, Kamryn, died as a result of the collision

Catherine McKay, 49, was charged with three counts of impaired operation of a motor vehicle causing death, and police said more charges are pending. She has been remanded to Pine Grove Correctional Centre until Thursday.

Drastic spike in accidents at intersection after 2010

According to SGI, between 2006 and 2009 there were seven collisions at the intersection resulting in 10 people suffering injuries but no deaths.

Ultimately the most important consideration attached to safety is driver behaviour and that has to be discussed as well.- Doug Wakabayashi, spokesperson Department of Highways

From 2010 to 2014, there were 31 collisions, with 20 people injured and three deaths. Only one collision, in 2013, was alcohol-related.

The numbers only include accidents where repairs cost more than $5,000 or there is injury or death.

"Most accidents occur at intersections. They are the single most dangerous place on a highway," Wakabayashi said.

People on social media have been calling for traffic lights, which Wakabayashi said is an unlikely solution.

"In that sort of high-speed environment in urban fringe, where drivers aren't expecting their flow to be interrupted typically what you see … is a reduction in T-bone or right angle [collisions] but that's often more than offset by an increase in rear end collisions," he said.

Other people have asked for a barrier to be set up to stop drivers from crossing two lanes to turn onto Wanuskewin Road.

Wakabayashi said traffic would spill out onto other highways and municipal roads, so no action could be taken without careful consideration with stakeholders and road users, but he added he wouldn't rule out any option at this point in their review.

"Ultimately the most important consideration attached to safety is driver behaviour and that has to be discussed as well," he said.

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