Coquihalla crash sparks calls for tougher highway regulations
The Coquihalla Highway crash that put dozens of people in hospital Saturday was an accident waiting to happen, according to a prominent tow company owner calling for stronger highway regulations.
Thirty-eight people were hurt, including two who suffered serious injuries, after a Universal Coach Lines tour bus slammed into a tow truck and car that were parked on the shoulder of the highway near Merritt.
Jamie Davis, owner of Motor Truck & Auto Ltd., said the first thing that crossed his mind when he saw images of the terrible aftermath was: Why wasn’t there a flagger with the tow truck?
“There should have been some warning to this bus driver,” said Davis, who also stars on the reality TV show Highway Thru Hell.
“If a tow company’s attending, flagging is more important than towing the car. Safety is more important.”
Davis said tow truck drivers in other jurisdictions are barred from blocking parts of the highway without a flagger present, something he’d like to see B.C. adopt.
Without mandatory flaggers, companies are free to forego the safety measure to cut costs, he added.
Davis said he alerted B.C. Transportation Minister Todd Stone and a local area manager from the ministry about the issue earlier this year, but never heard back.
“It seems to fall on deaf ears,” he said. “We’re going to see [another accident] if someone doesn’t step in and regulate them.”
The Ministry of Transportation did not respond to requests for comment Monday, but announced over the weekend that it’s responding to the crash by auditing Universal Coach Lines and reviewing all of the company’s drivers.
An initial review of its safety record showed "no major incidents or concerns in recent years," the ministry said in a statement Sunday.
The RCMP, which is still investigating the collision, also said it expects to recommend charges against the bus driver.
Universal Coach Lines has declined to comment on the accident.
Both the bus driver and tow truck driver were seriously injured but are expected to recover. The majority of victims were released from hospital by Sunday morning.
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Scott Roberts and files from The Canadian Press