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609 accidents in three years
In 2021, by resolution of the City of Trois-Rivières, the MTQ conducted a safety study for the section of Highway 40 between Rue des Prairies and Highway 55. Elected officials called for solutions to reduce the risk of accidents. Originally, elected officials had called for the speed limit to be reduced to 50 mph, expressing concern about the number of accidents there. In three years, 609 accidents were registered on this section, of which only 5 resulted in serious injuries, 138 with minor injuries and 466 with pure property damage. Approximately 34% of accidents are of the rear-end collision type, suggesting that many drivers are caught off guard by slowing, often caused by traffic jams.
A “generally sufficient” speed
In its report, the MTQ states that it conducted 10,000 speed measurements at five different locations. According to Roxanne Pellerin, regional spokesperson for Mauricie-Centre-du-Québec at the Ministry of Transport, the average speed observed over three years was between 68 km/h and 114 km/h. “That gives an overall average of 101 km/h. “This suggests that the overall speed is sufficient, but it also shows that some users are traveling at more than 110 km/h over the limits,” she explains. The ministry concludes that the 100 km/h speed limit is “in line with the road and safety environment in terms of infrastructure characteristics and traffic conditions”. The government reached a similar conclusion in January 2023 for a nearby stretch of Highway 55, which was also targeted by local elected officials for a limit reduction.
A photo radar is planned
To deter drivers from speeding, the Ministry of Transport recommends installing an automated photo radar in the section of Highway 40 in Trois-Rivières. There are currently 54 of these devices in Quebec, but Transport Minister Geneviève Guilbault wants to quickly increase their number as part of the National Road Safety Strategy. We will certainly have to wait a little longer before we see a radar at this point, since an internationally interesting call has already been launched to purchase more modern radars that will allow photographing a car in two places on a route, and then calculate its average speed based on the time it took to travel between the two. Their use must first be based on a draft law.
More signs and cameras
In addition to infrastructure, the report also suggests “strengthening messages to users in the industry” by informing them more clearly about obstacles and traffic conditions in real time. A project for intelligent transport systems is also in preparation. For example, we are considering replacing mobile variable message signs with larger, permanent signs that would be placed in strategic locations. There are also plans to install traffic cameras that will cover the entire section. There should also be a “Stand by in a Congestion Zone” sign with flashing lights on Highway 55 southbound.
Dangerous maneuvers pointed out
According to the study, 24% of accidents occurred due to “dangerous maneuvers” by drivers, such as sudden acceleration or zigzagging from one lane to another. The remainder is mainly related to excessive speed (22%), distraction or inattention (11%), or even impairment (2%). Overall, almost 60% of collisions can be attributed to user behavior. They most often occur during rush hour (34%). Three sectors appear to be particularly problematic: the Chenaux and Récollets boulevards, which account for 16% and 12% of accidents respectively, and the exit from the city center, with 12%. Note: A quarter of accidents (25%) involved only one vehicle, mostly due to distraction or poor driving.
However, the Ministry of Transport recognizes that problems related to drainage appear to affect the areas of the Le Jeune and Radisson bridges. In the first case, the formation of ice in winter makes travel difficult, in the second case, the accumulation of water in the left lane can “promote aquaplaning in heavy rain,” notes t-we. Quebec assures that analyzes are currently being carried out to determine whether options could be taken to curb these two phenomena.