RCMP urge caution by motorists after spate of accidents on Confederation Bridge

Police blaming "driver inattention" for growing number of collisions

Published on February 11, 2014

This transport truck crashed into a street sweeping vehicle on the Confederation Bridge last January.

©Photo special to The Guardian.

Prince Edward Island RCMP and Strait Crossing officials have issued an advisory asking motorists to stay focused while crossing the Confederation Bridge.

The advisory comes after several recent accidents caused by driver inattention, notably one involving a bridge sweeper that was rear-ended by a transport truck in January.

That accident closed the bridge for nearly four hours and prompted Confederation Bridge general manager Michel Le Chasseur to express concerns.

Five accidents have occurred on the span in the past year and a half.

“As a result of five recent accidents caused by driver inattention, we are concerned about the probable cause of this inattention,” Le Chasseur said in a news release issued in conjunction with RCMP Tuesday.

“We require your undivided attention when driving the bridge as conditions can change rapidly due to traffic, weather, maintenance and other factors over this 13-kilometre stretch of road.

"These accidents have caused several injuries requiring hospitalization and several delays due to salvage operations, inspection and repairs,” he said.

Driver inattention may arise from various sources including fatigue and focus turned to other activities, such as texting.

Prince District RCMP has charged 11 motorists with using mobile devices on the Confederation Bridge since Feb. 4.

“We remind motorists that use of mobile devices while operating a motor vehicle is prohibited and RCMP are monitoring the situation at the bridge very closely," said Staff Sgt. Ken Spenceley, commander of Prince District, RCMP.

A driver using a handheld device faces a $325 fine and points deducted from his or her licence. 

Le Chasseur noted that insurance companies also take note when a person is fined for handheld device use.

“Insurers are also taking note of this national trend in illegal mobile device use and encourage employers to adopt a policy on use of mobile devices, something we have recently adopted ourselves,” said Le Chasseur. “This public reminder is the first step in increasing safety measures for our employees and the travelling public. More tangible changes are coming.

"Technology is great, but like everything else, excess can be deadly."