Fatal crash near Lloydminster sparks debate over GDL restrictions
Published Monday, July 29, 2013 6:11PM MDT Last Updated Monday, July 29, 2013 6:47PM MDT
As police continue to investigate a fatal crash that left six teenagers dead near Lloydminster over the weekend, the serious crash is sparking questions over whether restrictions for drivers with graduated licenses are enough.
Statistics show the Graduated Drivers Licenses or GDL program have helped cut down on serious collisions involving young drivers since it was introduced ten years ago – but for one organization, the fatal weekend collision points to issues with the program.
Scott Wilson with the Alberta Motor Association said when he heard about the collision, he thought the GDL didn’t work in that case.
“Even though I recognize systems in place to reduce the likelihood of these sorts of things from occurring, these tragedies do occur,” Wilson said.
A number of restrictions are in place over drivers with a GDL in Alberta, some of which are shared with a similar program in Saskatchewan – such as having only the same number of passengers as seatbelts.
However, Wilson said he believes one that’s only applied to drivers with a learner’s permit in Alberta needs to be added to the GDL.
“Nighttime is a high risk time for any driver,” Wilson said, going on to say there are more hazards at night time.
RCMP in Maidstone, near Lloydminster, were called to a serious collision on Highway 17 at Township Road 490 at about 4:20 a.m. Saturday.
A semi-truck and a small car carrying six teenagers collided, five of those teens were pronounced dead at the scene, one of them was rushed to hospital with serious injuries, but passed away a short time later.
Friends identified the six teens as: Jayden Boettcher, 16, Aimie Hurley, 14, McKenzie Moan, 14, Kris Tavener, 17, Tarren Attfield, 15, Naomi Salas-Schafer, 13.
The driver of the truck survived.
Later in the weekend, a memorial for the teens at the site of the crash was placed, and a special memorial was held in Lloydminster to remember the group.
The provincial government said the province isn’t focusing on that right now, a spokesperson with Alberta Transportation said the current legislation is working.
“In the first four years we did a study, and we found that there was a 45 percent reduction in collisions among new drivers after we introduced the program,” Donna Babchishin said.
Across the border, Saskatchewan’s Transportation Minister said the rules need to be followed.
“It becomes pretty paramount that no matter how old you are and no matter how experienced of a driver you are, you still have responsibility behind the wheel, and that’s where we want to focus our attention moving forward,” Minister Darryl Hickie said.
The investigation into the fatal collision on the scene has wrapped up, but RCMP said it could be some time before they find the cause of the crash.
With files from Susan Amerongen