Pay heed to road conditions

Bay Roberts driver says accident Sunday (Aug. 10) could have been prevented

Nicholas Mercer
Published on August 12, 2014
High levels of standing water on the roads, like shown here in Clarke's Beach in this Compass file photo, are a hazard for speeding motorists.
Photo by Terry Roberts/The Compass

Bay Roberts director of public works Sean Elms has a message for driving in the rain.


It is simple and contains all of two words.

“Slow down,” he said from his office at the Bay Roberts town hall on Aug. 12.

It was only 48 hours earlier when he and his family were travelling home from a weekend at Terra Nova National Park when a red sports utility vehicle (SUV) struck the white pick up truck they were travelling in. Elms was towing a travel trailer at the time and was just east of the Bonavista turnoff on the Trans-Canada Highway 

It was raining heavily at the time when the car, travelling west, pulled out to pass the vehicle in front of them. The driver hit standing water and started to hydroplane causing the vehicle to slam into the side of Elms’ truck. The trailer jackknifed, forcing the truck into a nearby ditch.

The car, and its mangled front end, sat in the middle of the highway. The driver’s airbags deployed and she were not seriously hurt.

Elms’ son Keagan, 5, suffered a concussion, while his wife Adrienne walked away with some cuts and bruises. Eldest son Zachary ,8, was asleep at the time but did not sustain any injuries.

“We were lucky,” Elms said of the accident.

He sustained a cut to the heel, from kicking out the driver’s side door to get out of the vehicle, and some bruising around his torso area. The driver of the car was shaken up.

“I wanted to get the children out,” said Elms.

At the time of the accident, a pair of good Samaritans stopped to lend a hand, taking the two young children into their car and out of the rain. Elms said a paramedic and a pair of motorcyclist also stopped to lend a hand.

“Good people stopped and helped,” he said. “I want to thank those people.”

The accident was one that could have been avoided. Elms was slowing down, he figures moving between 60 and 70 kmh, when the woman decided to pull out and pass.

“There was no need of it,” he said. “Luckily, I was slowing down.”


Speaks to bigger problem

The accident speaks to a bigger problem seen on this province’s roads too many times by first responders and members of the police — motorists travelling at high speeds in less than ideal conditions.

“People don’t change (the way they drive) for anything,” said Elms.

Trinity Conception RCMP spokesman Sgt. Greg Hicks said high rates of speed are usually factors in these kinds of accidents.

When it rains like it did last weekend, water build up in ruts is common. It is important for motorists to remember to drive to the conditions of the road.

“People have to adjust,” said Hicks.

Driving might not get any easier as Environment Canada is forecasting rain for the next couple of days for much of the Trinity-Conception-Placentia region.