On Friday afternoon a dramatic three-vehicle crash took place on Highway, an incident that closed down the highway for an extended period of time.
Eastbound school buses could not access district schools and were cancelled, stranding children who had no way of getting home and frustrating parents who were not able to get into town to retrieve their little ones.
The schools, at least, had a plan in place to care for those children and contacted parents about the situation.
That wasn’t the case for thousands of drivers who found themselves stuck in traffic in a five-hour line up that, by 6 p.m., stretched nearly to the Langford Parkway.
Accidents happen, and Highway 14 is a tough road where they will likely continue to happen, but it’s the response to those accidents that should raise eyebrows.
Admittedly, the RCMP responded to the actual accident site in a professional manner, as did other emergency staff. What they did not do is provide the public with information they needed to respond to the situation. Nor did they contact the media with any updates so that we might inform the public on their behalf so that they had some idea of what had happened and what to expect.
Citing a dearth of public relations staff assigned to work the weekend, it took the RCMP almost three days to issue a press release regarding the crash. During the actual event, they made no information available to the media so that the public could be advised of the extremely long delays.
Similarly, the Ministry of Transportation has still not acknowledged that their Drive B.C. website was any less than efficient when they reported, at 5 p.m. on Friday, that the road was open to single-lane alternating traffic when, in fact, those openings were brief and sporadic and that drivers could expect up to five-hour delays.
Ministry representatives said that they rely on reporting from the accident site and do not, as a rule, report on the extent of the lineups heading into the sites.
Both agencies dropped the ball.
When a mistake is made, there are three things that should happen: the mistake should be admitted; the ones making the mistake should learn from it; they should take steps to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
Based upon the performance and subsequent justifications by the RCMP and the Transportation Ministry, both organizations are still grappling with the first of these steps.