Driving road safety through policy and practice

Every day millions of vehicles travel on Alberta roads and highways, whether they are transporting people or goods, ensuring the safety of Albertans using our road infrastructure is paramount to our quality of life, economic prosperity and personal well-being. Over the last 18 years, the government has allowed the physical condition of Alberta highways to deteriorate.

The Alberta Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association is committed to providing principled, data-informed solutions to ensure Alberta’s road infrastructure supports sustainable economic recovery and development and enhances the quality of life of Albertans.

Road safety requires an investment

According to Alberta Transportation, the province’s highway network is more than 31,400 kms. The department’s 2020-21 annual report show nearly 41% percent of Alberta’s highways are in fair or poor condition. Nearly 5,000 kms of Alberta highways are in such bad shape they need major rehabilitation or outright replacement.

The safety and reliability our road infrastructure is a serious concern that requires a coordinated effort to alter the trajectory towards renewal, resilience, sustainability and innovation of our transportation system. The Government needs to adopt an integrated approach to road safety through better road design and maintenance, improved driver behaviour and enforcement of traffic regulations.

How would you feel if a railcar transporting dangerous goods was traveling on a track of which 15% was in poor condition?  Or the pilot announced that 15% of the plane’s wings and fuselage was in poor condition?  You would be forgiven for feeling outrage and concern about your safety being placed at risk.

Predictable funding is required for road maintenance and upgrades to enhance and improve the safety and reliability of our road network

Condition of Alberta Provincial Highways
(Source: Alberta Transportation Annual Report, 2020-21)

This might for include routine maintenance, changes in road engineering and design, or the implementation of new technologies to improve traffic safety and relieve congestion. The difficulties of maintaining and enhancing a safe transportation system in future years will be compounded by a growing population, rapidly changing demographics, technology, and automation.

Investment in road infrastructure maintenance and improvement is just one part of solution, we can’t have safe roads without safe and competent drivers.

Government also owns the responsibility of traffic safety from making and enforcing the traffic laws to licensing and educating drivers. When Alberta introduced its first Traffic Safety Plan in 2007 the number of collisions, deaths and injuries on Alberta’s roads declined significantly.

It took several years for enforcement, engineering initiatives, education and other efforts to bring injury and fatality rates down. That’s too long, and more can be done to protect Albertans.

We cannot be complacent in making improvements to the safety of our roads, the lives of Albertans depend on it.

Combined fatal and major injury collision rate per 100,000 population
(Source: Alberta Transportation Annual Report, 2020-21)


The ARHCA has worked with the Transportation Infrastructure Advisory Panel to assess road infrastructure challenges and identify policy recommendations to support long overdue improvements. The ARHCA is advocating the following safety recommendations for the Alberta government.

  1. Adopt an integrated approach to road safety through better road design and maintenance, improved driver behaviour and enforcement of traffic regulations.
  2. Renew the Alberta Traffic Safety Plan in collaboration with industry partners and stakeholders.
  3. Increase and sustain public education and communication on traffic safety to address driver behaviours, particularly in roadside emergency scenes, construction zones and where winter crews are working.
  4. Explore the implementation of Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) technologies to improve safety and relieve congestion.
  5. Enable the adoption of new technologies and materials to improve the safety, design, construction, condition monitoring, maintenance and lifecycle of Alberta’s road infrastructure investments.