Curious onlookers drove past a perfectly upturned family van in a ditch on Sooke Road and Gillespie Road last Thursday evening, some wondering of its seats and contents that lay scattered after Sooke Fire Rescue retrieved the driver.
Amazingly, she received only a minor head injury.
The metal carnage didn’t end there, however, as it was the first of three more vehicle accidents to occur within meters of each other on the following of each consecutive day, said Sooke assistant fire chief Matt Barney.
“Considering the amount of rain that we’ve had, people are not driving to road conditions,” he said, adding this is nothing too out of the ordinary this time of year.
In the last two months, there have been five collisions between 5097 and 5570 blocks of Sooke Road, two of which were in the corner near 17 Mile Pub alone, said Sooke RCMP Cpl. Joe Holmes.
Holmes said determining the area as a distinctive problem is difficult to pinpoint, as there’s “a multitude of factors” involved.
“There’s a variety of accidents through that whole area, and that’s just primarily due to the terrain of the area; we’re talking hills, curves, variable weather conditions,” he said, adding that the problem spots seem to be on hilly descents, where most vehicles pick up speed and risk losing traction due to the severe turn angle of the curve.
Even the speed and weather, however, aren’t enough to present a visible cause to a loss of vehicle control.
“To say it’s only one given factor, it’s nearly impossible, unless you look at each individual circumstance,” Holmes said, adding that driver experience and knowledge of the area and condition of the vehicle can also play a significant role.
“You’d have to look at whether the driver had knowledge of that area before the accident, or have the conditions changed for someone who is used to driving either during the day or at night,” he said.
Regardless of the cause, an accident on those curvy spots on Sooke Road is enough to cause traffic jams for entire hours, causing frustration for those trying to get out or in.
Especially when time is money.
“It really does affect our business quite a bit, because we have tour times and our scheduling is often quite tight,” Chris Rees, operations manager at Adrena LINE Zipline Adventure Tours, who said some people will be late for their tour because they’re stuck somewhere on Sooke Road.
“It pushes back our whole business day when that happens, so it’s got a direct effect on us for sure,” he said.
With fenders and shattered headlamps quickly littering Sooke Road’s corners, some shift their eyes on the Ministry of Transportation for a possible solution.
On the brighter side, Sooke isn’t all forgotten either.
The province has invested $7 million towards improving Highway 14 between Langford in Sooke, including upgrades to drainage, shoulder widening and install of better delineation, noted Sonia Lowe, a Ministry of Transportation spokesperson.
Construction is also underway for the new digital overhead sign near the future connection to the West Shore Parkway extension.
“The sign will provide timely information regarding delays, road closures and current road conditions to the approximately 7,000 vehicles traveling from Langford to Sooke each day,” Lowe said.
Lowe added a study is underway that will review crash statistics and traffic volumes, which is expected next spring.