Drivers, beware of 18th Street and Richmond Avenue — it’s the worst intersection in Brandon.
That assertion is based on claims data from Manitoba Public Insurance collected from 2008-12, the most recent available.
As you read in yesterday’s paper, in those five years, some 268 collisions were reported at the crossing, which has commercial development on three corners and the Keystone Centre at the fourth.
That’s an average of about one crash a week, at an intersection that sees hundreds of thousands of vehicles pass through safely in that time, so it’s not as if wary motorists should avoid it entirely.
We are more worried by planning decisions such as allowing a drive-thru to open up on Victoria Avenue between Ninth and 10th streets — two intersections that were each in the 10 worst for crashes. While we love coffee and doughnuts more than most (and a location across from the police station is a match made in comedian heaven), it’s a poor fit for a drive-thru.
Still, despite a few congested irritants, Brandon still enjoys a reputation as a city that is easy to drive in. But it’s gone from “You can get anywhere in five minutes” to “10 minutes” to “15 minutes” or longer, these days, thanks to residential growth in the south end and commercial development in the north.
But it’s easy — sometimes too easy — to take safe streets and an easy Brandon commute as a given, and we think this is a good time to remind people that they should always be cautious and mindful when they are behind the wheel.
Even a hatchback at low speed carries enough metal and momentum to kill a person — the problem is only ramped up by bigger vehicles travelling at higher speeds.
While police have picked April as a month in which they will target distracted driving, in particular those who continue to talk or text on their phones while behind the wheel, electronic gizmos are just one way to be distracted.
Police will never be able to lay charges against drivers who are mentally preparing for an important work meeting, planning a shopping list or just plain old daydreaming while they are supposed to be focused on the road.
Laziness, too, plays a part. Although young drivers often get a bad rap due to their inexperience, it can be instructive to sit beside a 16-year-old who has just taken driver’s ed and ask him or her to point out everyday infractions committed by other drivers.
Whether it is rolling through a stop sign, making overly wide turns, or changing lanes where one shouldn’t, the vast majority of Brandon motorists appear to take a very blasé approach to driving.
Perhaps it is time for the province to take a page from the Driver’s Handbook — the quiz page. Drivers who are ticketed for violations already receive fines and in some cases demerits on their licence. For distracted driving, for example, it’s $203.65 and two demerits.
But that’s just money. We’d like to see some drivers, after a couple of tickets perhaps, sent back to take the driving road test again, before they can renew their licence.
Not only would that take time, it might also be a bit humbling for some drivers.
And perhaps intersections like 18th and Richmond will get a little bit safer.