Despite being a Provincial public road, Blakeburn is still an active haul road. So are many of the other resource roads (logging roads in oldspeak) in this area, and they’re all getting much busier than they used to be.
It’s not just the resource sector. The dramatic increase in quad and dirt bike traffic is making these roads dangerous for everyone. Both haulers and commuters on the Blakeburn report near misses almost every day. This warrants consideration.
Children operating high speed motor vehicles on a public road, although often accompanied by parents, is only part of the problem. The lack of seriousness and understanding of the situation is the real danger.
Professional drivers, particularly the ones driving the big rigs, use a two way radio to tell each other, co-workers and the public, where they are, which way they’re going, and what road they’re on. On a road like the Blakeburn, and the resource roads beyond and connecting to that, this is mandatory for them and is stipulated in the BC Forest and Range Practices Act. For the general public it is not, but is still a good idea. Especially considering that scanners and handheld radios are very cheap these days. It is also worth considering that it may save your life and likely the life of the other driver as well.
A pickup is bad enough, but an emergency stop with a 40 ton B-train or loaded logging truck on a single lane gravel road on the side of a steep mountain is dangerous. Most people can understand this if you tell them. Many are unable to grasp the concept if you simply post signs. Luckily the pros will often alert each other when there are kids on the road or non calling vehicles appear. You can hear the coal train drivers doing this.
If you have a radio and are calling, it is important to use the correct protocol. Other people need to know what road you are on, what kilometer mark you are at, and (this is extremely important) the direction you are traveling. Listening to the Blakeburn channel, it becomes apparent that there are even some professionals who don’t understand the concept. Often one will hear “Blakeburn; pickup”. A call like this could be from a mind reader who doesn’t understand that others don’t possess the same talent, or perhaps someone who is simply not talented enough to carry out their job, which most certainly will include following safety procedures. It is, unfortunately, a daily occurrence.
There are also instances of commercial service trucks using the Blakeburn who refuse to follow safe radio procedures, or even to participate. This despite the fact that they have a legal obligation as per the Forest and Range Practices Act. It is not something which is policed, but they are endangering other users by their behaviour.
However, one cannot fault the general public for not using a radio, although it is highly recommended if one is traveling on an active haul road. And most especially if one is bringing children and allowing them to drive. The general public is nevertheless responsible for knowing what is a public road and what is not. It is also wise to learn how to share resource roads in a responsible and safe manner. Note that there are sections of the Motor Vehicle Act which also apply here. One thing that is the same for everyone, professional driver or vacationer, is the rules of the road. Being on holidays and driving an unlicensed vehicle is no excuse for not considering other people’s safety.
Blakeburn Road is, as mentioned, a public road. It is only by historical convention, and turning a blind eye, that unlicensed motor vehicles have been using it. Mixing carefree holiday motor sports with industrial traffic is a consideration. Mixing children with logging trucks is a real worry. Road safety is the responsibility of all drivers – even in Coalmont.