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Un new coroner's report criticizes safety flaws on 50A coroner's office investigation into an accident that occurred in July 2022 once again highlights safety issues on Highway 50. (Photo archives)

Radio-Canada

The safety problem on the Guy Lafleur highway has resurfaced again. In a report from the coroner for the Laurentides region, Me Denyse Langelier, the lack of safety provision on a large part of the A-50 is once again highlighted.

Me Langelier was investigating a fatal accident that occurred in the municipality of Brownsburg-Chatham, in the Laurentians. In July 2022, Emmalee Scantlebury-Jacob, a 25-year-old from Gatineau and mother of two little girls, died in a collision on Highway 50.

The victim, then a passenger, was driving with her partner westbound, towards Gatineau, on a day of heavy rain, when the latter lost control of his vehicle around kilometer 250. The car then crossed the central lane before hitting head-on, against the flow of traffic, a Dodge Ram van traveling eastbound.

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Users of Highway 50 travels at 100 km/h while on several sections, there is only one lane of traffic in each direction. The lanes are not always separated by a slide. (Archive photo)

According to Mr. Langelier, several factors including the torrential rain, the condition of the rear tires of the vehicle in which Ms. Scantlebury-Jacob was found, the presence of ruts on the highway, the absence of a median between the east-west lanes and the driver's drug use contributed to this accident.

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In addition to denouncing the fact that there is nothing separating the two lanes on the highway, its The report also notes the depth of the ruts on the A-50 which were filled with water at the time of the incident. The coroner regrets the lack of maintenance of certain expressways, although very busy.

These are still highways, we’re not talking about country roads! she reacted in an interview with Radio-Canada.

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Coroner Me Denyse Langelier regrets that the A50 widening work started by the Ministry of Transport does not concern the entire motorway. (File photo)

This is not the first time that Me Langelier has looked into safety problems on Highway 50. In 2013, she published a first report. Since then, others have followed one another, from him and that of his colleagues, both in the Laurentians and in Outaouais.

In addition to the report on the death of Ms. Scantlebury-Jacob, the coroner says she is still working, at this very moment, on two other fatal accidents, including one which occurred in November and left two dead.

The police tell us: you, the coroners, only have fatal accidents, but we have a lot of accidents where there have been serious injuries. I don't know what it will take for the Ministry to realize that this road is dangerous.

The coroner confides having taken several steps in recent years to ask to resolve these problems. She recognizes that measures have been taken to better maintain the roadway, but nevertheless admits that this is not enough.

They [recently] made corrections, and we were very happy that they did. They did it quite quickly. On the other hand, in terms of the request for the separation of adjoining lanes, the Ministry [of Transport] considers that there are rumble strips in the center and that there is perhaps no not enough accidents in the area [to install slides], she explained.

This is not a highway that should have been [built] with contiguous lanes. We don't call it the highway of death for nothing.

A quote from Me Denyse Langelier, coroner for the Laurentides region

Me Langelier is delighted with the concrete barrier installed in the center of the track between Mirabel airport and Saint-Canut, which has prevented fatal accidents on this section, according to her. However, she regrets that the work to widen the A-50 started by the Ministry of Transport does not target the entire highway.

In his report, Me Langelier recommends that measures be taken to secure the A-50 by installing a concrete median barrier or cables, in the short term.

According to her, if safety arrangements had been made, there would not have been a head-on collision and it would have been possible to avoid the death of Emmalee Scantlebury-Jacob in 2022.

She also recommends continuing the widening of the highway to four lanes for the entire network, emphasizing that this request has been made by several coroners in the past .

With the new Coroners Act having passed, the Ministry is obliged to respond to our recommendations. But unfortunately, these are only recommendations. If they tell us that in this sector, they do not see the need to install a safety barrier, all we can do as coroner is to continue to hit the same nail.

We coroners often work on human tragedies. The ministries work with statistics. […] I don't know what it will take for the government to eventually, really, make this highway completely safe from Saint-Jérôme to Gatineau.

A quote from Me Denyse Langelier, coroner for the Laurentides region

The coroner also hopes that the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec will continue its awareness campaigns on the use of drugs while driving, prevention on the use of suitable tires and safe driving when weather conditions are unfavorable.

At the time of publishing this text, neither the office of the Minister of Transports, Geneviève Guilbault, nor the ministry responded to Radio-Canada's request for reaction.

With information from Benjamin Vachet

By admin

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