Highway needs more than a few Band-Aids

Keep urging the powers-that-be to improve our roads, but take it upon yourself to drive safely.

Few people know the traffic safety issues of the Malahat the way Malahat fire chief Rob Patterson does.

That’s why you should pay attention when he says the latest $15 million the government is throwing at our most notorious stretch of highway — though welcome — amounts to just another Band-aid. Don’t read that the wrong way. We’ve long been proponents of a completely divided Cowichan highway from the Malahat to North Oyster.

If the government wants to continue to chip away at that goal $15 million at a time, then that’s better than doing nothing at all. This latest roadwork announcement is a good thing, a step in the right direction.

But any improvement made to the existing highway cannot disguise the fact it is less an artery to move traffic from community to community and more Main Street Cowichan. And it is populated at any given time with people who are driving too slow, or too fast, or with their minds focused more on their lives and their phones than they are on the road.

Cars are such an everyday part of our lives that we frequently  forget they are also shiny metal boxes hurtling past each other at rates of speed deadly to the human body. Instead, we give them the same attention we give our spouses as they chatter through our favourite TV show.

In an ideal world, we would build a new divided highway from Victoria to Nanaimo with a half-dozen cloverleaf exits and on-ramps and no other access points. In an ideal world, the people driving those cars will be focused on the road and nothing else. But it is not, and never will be, an ideal world.

By all means keep urging the powers-that-be to improve our roads. But take it upon yourself to drive safely.

—Cowichan News Leader Pictorial