Editorial by Natalie Musseau.Gulf News,September 8-2009.
Time for better warnings
The Gulf News
After getting off the gulf ferry, visitors to this province are greeted by a sign spanning the Trans-Canada Highway saying 'Welcome to Newfoundland and Labrador.'
Some people pull into Port aux Basques to have a look around, refuel or just take a break before starting their journey. The majority head up the highway, onto whatever their final destination might be.
Those who are familiar with our province and its unique weather patterns may think to ask what the winds are like. Some visitors may have heard of the Wreckhouse winds, which even warrant their own dictionary entry.
Unfortunately, many visitors know nothing of the potential danger that lies just a few minutes up the road.
And there's absolutely nothing to warn them.
The results of that ignorance mixed with the powerful Wreckhouse winds were easily seen on the last weekend in August when two separate vehicles towing travel trailers were blown over. Likely not the start, nor finish, those families had in mind while planning their Newfoundland vacation.
They weren't the first and won't be the last until something is done to warn travellers about the dangers of Wreckhouse.
The best way to prevent future accidents is to have electronic signs that display wind speeds and warnings, similar to those that give information to those crossing the bridge to Prince Edward Island.
It's not a new idea; in fact, it's one that has been talked about and worked on at various times over at least the past decade. The stumbling block always seems to be who is going to pay for it.
One would image that insurance companies would benefit from fewer accidents and the resulting thousands of dollars in damages that occur every year.
More importantly, if blowing over in Wreckhouse is part of your memory of Newfoundland, it's unlikely any amount of creative advertising would lure you back to the province. And unless their friends are adrenaline junkies, it's not likely to be too good for word of mouth either, which means the provincial tourism department has a stake in getting that information to travellers.
The Department of Transportation would also seem to bear some responsibility to warn motorists.
Maybe that's the problem - everyone is waiting for someone else to do something. Meanwhile, unsuspecting tourists have their vacations ruined, property damaged and lives put in danger all because they didn't know what was around the corner.
It's high time we told them.