A 24-year-old man died Wednesday in a vehicle collision at Mile 64 north of Fort St. John on the Alaska Highway, police said, just days after new data showed that the road is one of British Columbia's deadliest.
RCMP said that a logging truck slowed to make a turn and was rear-ended by a second logging truck. The driver from the second truck died from his injuries on scene, police said in a release. Local RCMP said visibility and road conditions contributed to the accident.
Unfortunately these types of accidents are all too common on this highway.
From 2004 to 2013, there were 55 fatal crashes on the Alaska Highway from Dawson Creek to the northern border, according to information obtained this week by a provincial newscaster.
The majority of these crashes happened from Fort St. John to Fort Nelson, which had 30 fatalities during this time frame. This earned this stretch of the road the dubious distinction of ranking as the fourth most deadly stretch of highway in B.C.
On Monday, Global BC, using information it had requested from ICBC, published data on how many fatalities occurred on provincial highways from 2004 to 2013.
The data showed that Highway 1 had the most fatalities, with 264. Followed up by this was Highway 97, at 250. Highway 97 includes portions of the Alaska Highway.
The newscaster also published data for northern B.C. It showed that there were 10 fatal crashes on the Dawson Creek to Alberta border, followed by 13 fatal crashes on the stretch of road between Dawson Creek to Fort St. John.
Fort St. John to Fort Nelson had 30 crashes, and the stretch of road between Fort Nelson and the Alaska border saw 12 crashes.
Fort St. John Councillor Larry Evans said it was “unfortunately” not surprising that the road between Fort Nelson and his city took such a high spot.
“It’s a wicked stretch of road, it always has been,” he said.
Northern Rockies Regional Municipality Mayor Bill Streeper said that the Montney gas plays goes “straight through the middle” of the highway. He added that this road has begun to be compared to the “highway through hell” to Fort McMurray for its conditions.
“We've had very little work done on the Alaska Highway; it just hasn't caught up with the times,” Streeper said. “This is just showing what are the results, when you don't have the infrastructure kept up to date … something’s definitely got to be done.”
Evans also suggested that stretch of road should be four-laned, although he admitted that may be “pie in the sky” thinking.
“They are trying to put passing lanes in and keep it as clear as possible, but somewhere down the way we’re going to have to bite the bullet.”
Streeper said that in particular, the area of Highway 97 near Bougie Creek and Sikanni Hill were stretches of road that particularly needed four-laning.
Evans said that people should use common sense when driving through the road. Streeper also said that truck operators should ask drivers of larger trucks to “have (their) guys back up a little bit” and break up to give room to motorists who want to pass some of these trucks.
The stretch of highway that had the most fatalities was between Revelstoke and Golden, which saw 38 fatal crashes.
The stretch of highways that had the least recorded fatalties was Highway 99 near Highway 97 in the Lilloet area, which only saw two fatalities.
A Ministry of Transportation official said via e-mail that her ministry and their safety partners “have been working hard to reduce serious crashes in our highway system.”