Allenby Road and the Trans-Canada Highway just outside of Duncan is an intersection that needs a protected left turn light. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Allenby Road and the Trans-Canada Highway just outside of Duncan is an intersection that needs a protected left turn light. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Editorial: Protected left turn lights at Cowichan intersections will save lives

No more of this playing chicken with traffic

There is no doubt that the intersections south of Duncan along the Trans-Canada Highway need to be governed by dedicated, protected left-turn lights.

And by that we mean that people will only be able to turn left onto and off of the highway when they have an exclusive left turn arrow.

No more of this playing chicken with traffic to save a few minutes or make the impatient driver behind you stop trying to force you out into the road (some even go so far as to honk).

The truth is that at many of these intersections there is poor visibility from the left turn lanes on the TCH if there is traffic facing you trying to turn left from the other direction. The vehicles opposite you often almost entirely obscure your view of the oncoming lanes for any measurable distance. Far too often the choice to start to make the turn is something of a guess accompanied by a hope and a prayer that a vehicle you can’t see isn’t barrelling towards you on a collision course.

There’s also the fact that it can sometimes be difficult to judge just how fast the vehicles coming towards you are going, and some will even speed up as they approach an intersection, usually to try to make sure they make it through a green or even yellow light. They may not be considering you in the equation at all as they approach. This while those turning left are trying to clear the intersection before the light turns red.

These conditions create some of the worst kinds of accidents. At least one of the vehicles involved is often travelling at a high rate of speed. There is a high chance of a t-bone-type crash. There’s also the risk that cars behind won’t be able to stop and so it becomes a multi-vehicle crash.

So it has been at Kilmalu, Hutchinson and Fisher Roads, where protected left turn signals are being considered (though it doesn’t sound that promising for Hutchinson). But also at Allenby (that intersection desperately needs to be turn left on the green arrow only) and Boys roads near Duncan.

We remember well when Cobble Hill/Cowichan Bay Road at the TCH by Valleyview Centre used to be one of the worst intersections for crashes in the Cowichan Valley before the dedicated left turn went in there, after much begging and pleading from local governments and fire departments who were constantly having to mop up after fatal collisions.

Protected left turn lights will pose almost no inconvenience for drivers on the highway, and will be far safer for those trying to turn left. The highway is only getting busier. Not installing these signals will mean more fatalities.

Editorials