Road Safety Advocates Encourage Albertans to 'Take the Pledge'

Saturday, December 14, 2013

cityscapeAlberta residents pride themselves on being some of Canada's safest drivers. However, many people have died after being involved in an accident on two of the province's most highly trafficked roads, Highways 63 and 881. With this in mind, safety organizations, trade association groups and municipalities are uniting, exhorting motorists everywhere to personally pledge that they will drive as safely as possible when they're on these roads.

This past Nov. 22 was officially recognized as Pledge Day in Alberta, this after being formally certified as such by the Coalition for a Safer 63 and 881, Wood Buffalo Mayor Melissa Blake, as well as Bob Allen, superintendent for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

During the signing, Blake indicated that these roads have seen far too many car insurance claims that ended in tragedy.

"Highways 63 and 881 have seen hundreds of vehicle-related injuries and dozens of fatalities over the years," said Blake. "The situation is not without hope, but it requires commitment from each and every traveler of our highways. I applaud the Coalition for a Safer 63 and 881 for its efforts to raise awareness around driving behavior."

How pledgers can participate

By logging on to thepledge.ca, individuals who haven't made their commitment official can do so. There are are various resources there that guide prospective pledgers through the process, including what steps they need to take to make their promise official so that everyone knows of their commitment and resolve to drive cautiously.

"The Pledge campaign headlines and messages make people stop and think about their actions and the possible outcomes that may occur if they don't take the proper steps for a safer journey," said Debbie Hammond, executive director of the Coalition for a Safer 63 and  881. "The Pledge outlines the most important actions you should take before you get on the road and while you are driving."

She added that when pledgers communicate their promise to others - such as their close friends, parents or sibling - those individuals can hold them accountable so that they live up to their vows.

More than $1 billion invested in highway improvements

For those who may be new to Alberta and aren't familiar with the province's main highways, 63 and 881 both run north to south in the northeastern part of Alberta. They are maintained by the Alberta Department of Transportation and have gone through a number of projects in order to improve traffic flow over the years. Just last year, the Government of Alberta announced that more than $1 billion would go toward repairing and improving the upkeep and functionality of Highways 881 and 63.

Alberta Transportation Minister Ric McIver said at the time that the investments were worth it, seeing as how the businesses in the region that the highways pass through are tremendous contributors to the province's economy.

"This is about investing in Alberta's future," said McIver.

Some of this funding has resulted because of how many accidents have been experienced on these roads. According to CBC News, between 2001 and 2005, more than 1,000 crashes have occurred on Highway 63 alone. Of these, more than two dozen people have been killed and nearly 260 motorists were severely injured, often requiring hospitalization.

If all goes according to plan, it's expected that the improvements and repair work will be completed by the fall of 2016, enabling motorists to travel on a completely divided four-lane highway from Grassland to Fort McMurray, the Government of Alberta said when the project was officially announced in October of last year.