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Red Hill: City, police say drivers causing problems, not the road

The city's traffic engineers point to bad drivers, not road design, as the root cause of safety concerns on the Red Hill Valley Parkway.

Police were already focused on speed enforcement when a 10 crash weekend raised concerns

The city is studying the safety of the Red Hill Valley Parkway and the Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

The city's traffic engineers point to bad driving, not road design, as the root cause of events like last month's 10 collisions in one day on the Red Hill Valley Parkway

Ten collisions were reported to police on the Red Hill Valley Parkway on Saturday, Oct. 24. (Bob Hatcher)
But because of questions about accidents and safety, the city is in the midst of a study of the Red Hill and the Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway and police are already a month into a speed enforcement blitz on the escarpment highway.

The study was instigated after two teenage girls died earlier this year. Engineers are studying things like driver speed, driver behaviour and wet weather conditions that may contribute to the collisions. It expects to bring the study to council later this year or early in 2016.

One of their findings won't come as a shock to the dozens of people who commented on social media about the recent rainy Saturday evening where there were 10 colllisions on the parkway:

People drive too fast on the roads.

"One of the things we've identified that people need to understand that parkways are parkways," said David Ferguson, the city's traffic superintendent. "They're not 400-series highways."

Hamilton Police are taking a look at the roads, too. They've started a campaign from Oct. 1 through the end of the year called "Project Slide" to focus extra enforcement on speeding, stop signs and distracted driving. 

From Oct. 1 when the campaign started to Oct. 28, police have issues 111 fines for speeding and 32 stop-sign-related tickets on the Red Hill, said police spokesperson Const. Steve Welton.

(City of Hamilton)

The number of collisions this year resembles how many there were in previous years, Ferguson said. The 2015 numbers only go through July 23, so the 10-collision day hasn't been added yet. But he thinks 2015 will look similar to 2014's 71 collisions and the 80 collisions in 2013.

'People are sliding all over the road'

Ferguson said the "geometric layout of the roadways" accommodate certain speeds, and that's how the 90 km/h speed limits are set. When people exceed them, bad things happen.

"The posted speed limits aren't there so much to be a pain in the motorists' butt," he said. "They truly are there for purposes of safety and operations."

The police campaign, Project Slide, extends through the end of the year.

"People are sliding all over the road, losing control," Welton said. "We're all seeing the issues stemming from aggressive driving."

The stop sign infractions come from speed, too.

"We see them coming off the highway. They're going too fast and they don't even see the stop sign," he said.

Ferguson said he welcomes the enforcement, but said it can only go so far. 

"Unfortunately they can't be there 24/7," he said. "There has to be a level of responsibility put on the motorists and the drivers."

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