5 vehicle collisions with Valley Line southeast LRT creating concern

There have been 5 vehicle collisions with the Valley Line southeast LRT since November. Laura Krause looks into what’s being done to help prevent more collisions in the future.

By Laura Krause

There have been five vehicle collisions with the Valley Line LRT since November. TransEd says all incidents have been a result of drivers illegally turning right on a red light.

In three cases, trains have run into vehicles turning illegally, and in two cases vehicles turning illegally have sideswiped a train.

“Our train drivers continue to see frequent illegal right turns against red traffic signals and ‘no right on red’ signage. Most times the driver simply sounds the horn to warn the vehicle driver he/she is approaching while also slowing the train. In some cases the train driver has had to apply heavy braking to avoid a collision,” Says TransEd spokesperson Dallas Lindskoog in a statement.

Councillor Keren Tang says she has heard concerns from residents in her ward.

“I have had some residents reach out and say ‘are they going to introduce the arms back?’ At this point, I think it’s a great question for TransEd. My understanding is that it is not necessarily in the books,” she says. “I think it’s a good reminder, that as the trains increase their testing, its a real thing, it’s happening, and so when we see signs we really need to respect them and follow the traffic safety.”

The Valley Line southeast LRT does not have any bells, cross arms or gates at any intersection. Anthony Singhal, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Alberta says that could cause some confusion for drivers.

“When you see the cross arms on LRT crossings, that is an obvious clear barrier, you can’t move. If it’s not there, it’s possible it can add some confusion, related to what you are allowed to do at a particular intersection,” he says.

Singhal says drivers familiar with the area may also be more prone to missing new road signs and traffic patterns. “Humans, we are navigators. And our brains are hardwired to remember our routes, so when we have a route that we have a lot of experience with, we sort of go into an automatic mode, and in that automatic mode, our awareness of our environment can change, or vigilance sometimes decreases.”

TransEd says the ongoing repairs of 5 of the 26 trains should not impact testing. They will continue with their safety education campaign to spread awareness of increased train testing, and say “if you see tracks, expect a train in either direction.”

In a statement from Adam Laughlin, Depurty City Manager of Integrated Infrastructure Services, he says the City is getting ready to launch phase 2 of its safety campaign, about the need to obey traffic signs and signals, and hwo to stay safe around trains.

He says Edmontonians can expect to see this campaign in the next few weeks. “We take the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists very seriously. In conjunction with TransEd, we are currently monitoring intersections for any traffic flow challenges and safety concerns.The City thanks Edmontonians for taking extra care and attention when travelling in the area, as everyone adapts to the new infrastructure.”

Construction for the Valley Line southeast LRT was originally scheduled to wrap up in 2020. It has been delayed multiple times. TransEd has not yet announced an opening date for the Valley Line Southeast LRT line.

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