Safety worries at Petro-Canada
Fast drivers not thinking of dangers posed

by Nancy Gardiner
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 02/97) - Workers at a city Petro-Canada service station don't have to play in traffic --they do have to work in it.

The station is located kitty-corner to Tim Hortons near Wal-Mart.

Mike Wood, manager of the Petro-Canada station, has been investigating ways to stop the intermittent high-speed traffic that races past the pumps in front of the station.

The vehicles don't stop for gas, but use the area in front of the pumps as a throughway.

One staff member had to dive out of the way of an oncoming car and there's been a couple of close calls, says Wood.

"The guys at the station have kept track of the flow. They tracked 40 to 50 cars driving through every day," he said. That volume kept up for the four days that they monitored the situation.

Some of the cars pass through at speeds estimated by employees at 40 km/h.

There have been a few accidents at the corner of the station but no one has been seriously injured, says Wood.

At first Woods tried simple measures.

Signs were posted advising motorists to proceed with caution and forbidding through traffic, but the traffic flow only increased.

Then the station tried a row of pylons to narrow the lanes. That drove down the flow to about 14 vehicles a day.

But once people grew comfortable driving through the pylons, the numbers crept up again.

Wood also had problems with snowmobiles tearing up his air bell hose.

Station personnel built up snow to create an artificial speed bump and to protect the hose, but it made clients mad. The bump has since been reduced in size.

"So we decided on cement barriers," Woods said, still maintaining his sense of humor. "We tried everything else."

And it's working. The number of through-traffic vehicles is now about one or two a day.

Wood says if people realized the danger to his staff, and the danger of swerving into the pumps, they might not continue driving through his pump area.