Firm says trees obstructing vision at Humboldt Broncos crash intersection

Sixteen people died and 13 others were injured in the collision at an intersection north of Tisdale

A consulting firm says sight lines are a safety concern at the rural intersection where the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash happened.

A 70-page safety review done for the Saskatchewan government says a stand of trees, mostly on private property, obstructs the view of drivers approaching from the south and east — the same directions the bus and semi-trailer were coming from when they collided.

Negotiating with the landowner to remove the trees is one of 13 recommendations included in the report.

Rumble strips, larger signs and painting ”Stop” and “Stop Ahead” on the road are some of the other suggestions.

Sixteen people died and 13 others were injured in the collision at an intersection north of Tisdale in April.

The bus was travelling north on Highway 35 and the semi was westbound on Highway 335.

Both roads have speed limits of 100 km/h. Highway 335 has a stop sign. Highway 35 does not.

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The RCMP have charged the truck’s driver, Jaskirat Sidhu, with 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily injury.

The review notes that because Sidhu’s charges are still before the court, RCMP investigators would not talk to consultants from McElhanney Consulting Services about the causes of the crash.

The report’s authors found six collisions at the intersection between 1990 and 2017 and another 14 on roads nearby.

One of those collisions was deadly. In 1997, six people were killed when a pickup truck heading east failed to stop on Highway 335 and was hit by a southbound tractor-trailer.

Those vehicles where heading in the opposite direction as the bus and truck in the Broncos crash. The review did not find another accident with vehicles travelling west and north.

“Although there have been two multiple fatality collisions at the intersection, the location does not have a high overall frequency of collisions, including high-severity collisions,” the review concludes.

“No significant collision trends were identified at the intersection. However, the geometric design review did identify some potential safety issues that could be mitigated to further reduce the collision risk at the intersection.”

The government cut down some of the trees in October, but most of them are on private property. There was also a private building within the sight lines of the corner but it has been moved since the crash.

“Removing the trees within the sight triangle in the southeast corner is desirable,” the report says.

“The recent removal of the building in the southeast corner means that only trees would need to be removed in order to achieve the sight triangle, which would be significantly less expensive, but would still require negotiation with the landowner.”

If the trees can’t be removed, additional warnings about the stop sign on Highway 335 are needed, the review says.

Rumble strips could be installed on both east and west approaches to the intersection, the report says, but the approaches would need to be re-paved to provide a deep enough surface.

It also says “Stop” and “Stop Ahead” could be painted on pavement for vehicles heading westbound. It suggests median stop signs would also be a possibility, but could pose a challenge for farm machinery.

The report doesn’t recommend a roundabout or a four-way stop.

It says Highway 335 is uncontrolled and motorists could become complacent and assume the highway is uncontrolled at all intersections.

“This factor, in combination with other issues, such as the tunnel vision discussed … and large lateral offset of signs, increases the risk that a motorist will overlook the stop control and fail to stop.”

Ryan McKenna, The Canadian Press

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