black and white photo of car headlights on snowy road

Outside my window the rain turns to snow and begins to gather on the grass and on the laneway. It’s high time I put the snow tires on my car, I think.

We often think about road safety this time of year, when everyone on Canada’s roads is adjusting once again to winter driving conditions – although truthfully road hazards exist in every season. But on the third Wednesday of November, Canada marks the National Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims.

Five people are killed on Canada’s roads every day, on average, and 162,000 are injured every year. At Threads of Life, we know that many of those deaths and injuries are work-related: people whose job was road construction or maintenance, professional drivers, first responders on the side of the road, people simply commuting to and from their workplace.

Recently, Threads of Life family member Liz Stewart shared the story of her daughter Terri Lynn, who died at age 19, working as a flagger on the highway. We also remember Dick Van Rooyen who was a road construction supervisor, setting up pylons along the highway; Marleen Rauhut, who was a snowplow driver; Brent Wade whose dump truck was hit by a train at a level crossing; Nick Micieli, placing traffic counters on regional roads as a summer job; Blaine Nittel, whose pump truck overturned…and so many others. Too many others.

Canada has set a goal to have the safest roads in the world by 2025. The vision “Towards Zero” promoted by the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) is perfectly aligned with the vision Threads of Life and many of our partners share for workplace health and safety. The CCMTA has identified a wealth of best practices to address both the factors that contribute to collisions, and key risk groups. The objectives for the road safety strategy are:

  • Raising public awareness and commitment to road safety
  • Improving communication, cooperation and collaboration among stakeholders
  • Enhancing legislation and enforcement
  • Improving road safety information in support of research and evaluation
  • Improving the safety of vehicles and road infrastructure
  • Leveraging technology and innovation

It’s a model that’s worth studying for those of us aiming to improve workplace safety – road related or not.

There’s hardly a family in the country that hasn’t been touched by a serious collision. For many of us, driving is the greatest risk we face in our daily lives. And every one of us, whether we drive or cycle or walk on roadways, can take steps to keep ourselves and others safe. The roads and highways are a workplace for so many people. Road safety is an area where each of us can have a real and direct impact on workers’ safety.

Susan Haldane
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