Friday, May 09, 2008

driving distraction on cootes?

Cootes driver investigated

Craig Campbell,Published on May 09, 2008

Police are still investigating a driver who turned left from Olympic Drive onto an uncontrolled pedestrian path last month, eventually striking a 22-year-old woman walking her dog.

Acting Hamilton Police Services Sergeant Walter Johnston said investigators originally thought alcohol was a factor.

"But investigation found alcohol was not a factor. Excessive speed was also not a factor," Sgt. Johnston said.

As he described it, the driver turned left from Olympic Drive through the intersection and directly onto the pedestrian path instead of Cootes Drive itself.

Early in the morning of April 19, McMaster student and Dundas resident Jennifer Skingley took a break from studying for final exams to take her family dog for a walk.

By 12:03 a.m., she was taken to hospital suffering from a concussion and neck injuries. Ms. Skingley was apparently home by last week, but still suffering headaches and will need further tests. Her father, Malcolm Skingley, a Dundas resident, raised concerns about the lack of safety barriers between the roadway and paved path.

"I see a lot of people, seniors and people with children, walking on that path," Mr. Skingley said.

There is in fact no barrier preventing vehicles from driving through the Cootes-Olympic intersection and onto the paved Cootes Drive Trail, and nothing to separate the trail from the other two lanes of traffic on Cootes Drive.

Only a couple of signs facing walkers and bikers indicate vehicles are not permitted.

Much of the 2.5-kilometre long paved trail runs directly along the south side of Cootes Drive, where the posted speed limit is 80 km-h, with no protective barrier between traffic and the trail.

Safety improvements

Mr. Skingley said the City of Hamilton should be pressured into making safety improvements along Cootes Drive and the paved trail to prevent vehicles from accessing it.

City staff was apparently not aware of the accident. A couple of parks department staff members who oversee planning and maintenance of Hamilton trails, including Cootes Drive Trail, said they were not aware of any problems near the intersection of Cootes and Olympic Drive, or previous instances of vehicles turning onto the pathway from Olympic Drive.

"No vehicles are allowed on any parkland or trails under the the park bylaws, except city service vehicles and (Emergency Medical Service), unless granted permission by the City," said Al Dore, manager of parks operations and maintenance.

No comments: