Canadian Automobile Association (CAA)

Canadian Automobile Association (CAA)

September 29, 2005 09:30 ET

CAA Brings Warning Signs to Parliament Hill

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Sept. 29, 2005) -

National Highway Plan and sustained funding for roads urgently needed

The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) has today brought together its community leaders from across Canada to demand immediate action for the nation's deteriorating roads and highways. The CAA also released Warning Signs, which calls on the federal government to create a National Highway Plan, as well as provide sustained, incremental funding to ensure that Canada has a road and highway system that is safe, efficient and environmentally responsible.

"We have gathered here from across Canada to bring national attention to a crisis that is affecting the health, safety and productivity of Canadians and our environment," said CAA President David Flewelling at a news conference this morning. "As a nation, Canada has no vision to ensure that tomorrow's roadways will serve our nation's evolving needs and no plan to ensure consistent standards are adopted on our roadways from one end of our country to the other. Our federal government has to clearly recognize that roads are a critical investment in our safety, productivity and way of life - not a discretionary expense."

Warning Signs includes CAA's five-point plan:

1. See roads as an investment, not an expense;
2. Implement a National Highway Policy
3. Set funding priorities;
4. Invest in the roads of tomorrow
5. Encourage eco-driving

The release of Warning Signs follows decades of inadequate federal funding and neglect, causing the deterioration of Canada's National Highway System (NHS). The NHS currently accounts for about 4 per cent of the country's roads, but carries almost 30 per cent of our nation's traffic. And the situation is getting worse - and much more dangerous. In 1998, a report on our roadway infrastructure concluded that 38% of Canada's NHS and 22% of all bridges in that system were deficient and substandard.

The lack of repairs and upgrades since then has resulted in roadway infrastructure that has not kept up with the evolving needs of Canada's motoring public and the economy. On a daily basis, this translates into congested and poorly maintained roads and highways, which cause the health, safety, and productivity of Canadians to suffer.

Meanwhile, motorists have been paying approximately $5 billion annually at the pump in federal gasoline and excise taxes. Yet in 2004-05 the federal government reinvested only about 7 per cent of these 'user fees' back into the roadway infrastructure that Canada's almost 22 million licensed drivers and road users require.

Copies of Warning Signs are available on

About the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA)

CAA is a federation of 9 automobile clubs serving 4.7 million members through 130 offices across Canada. CAA provides a wide range of member services and works to improve travelling and motoring conditions at home and around the world.

A satellite feed is available for all television editors seeking B-roll material. The co-ordinates for the satellite feed on Sept. 29th 1:30 pm - 2:00 pm EST are:

Anik F2 C Band Analog
Transponder 6B
Audio subcarrier 6.2 and 6.8
Downlink Frequency 3940 vertical

Media Backgrounder: CAA brings Warning Signs to Parliament Hill

The Issue:

The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) is urging the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and Parliament to act now to recognize the National Highway System as a strategic national asset and to put in place a National Highway Policy and a multi-year program for sustained, incremental funding for our roads and highways.

CAA Action Plan for our Roads and Highways:

CAA has developed a five-point action plan to ensure a safe and efficient roadway system for Canadians. The federal government must:

1. See roads as an investment in the health, safety and
productivity of Canadians, not as a discretionary expense.

2. Implement the National Highway Policy as proposed by the
provinces and territories, recognizing the NHS as a strategic

3. Set funding priorities for the NHS to bring it up to an optimal
standard, and provide for future needs as well, include
speeding up the border infrastructure program and developing a
rural roads safety and improvement program.

4. Invest in the roads of tomorrow by increasing funding for
intelligent transportation systems (ITS) research.

5. Encourage 'eco-driving' behaviour through tax incentives for
fuel-efficient and hybrid vehicles, increasing public awareness
through campaigns to promote conservation and fuel efficiency
and improving and expanding congested roads.

Saving Lives and Preventing Injuries:

- According to Transport Canada, 2,778 road users were killed in
traffic collisions and 225,000 were injured (2003). That is
more than 600 people per day suffering some form of physical
injury because of vehicular crashes.

- Approximately 30 per cent of crashes are fully or partially
attributable to the road environment, such as road design and
traffic management systems.

- Government research estimates that economic losses caused by
traffic collisions - owing to health care and loss of
productivity - are at least $10 billion annually - about 1 per
cent of Canada's GDP - and as high as $25 million each year.

- With safer roads and highways, we will reduce the health care
dollars spent on needless road and highway deaths and injuries.
The Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation and
Highway Safety estimated in 1998 that reduced congestion and
improved highway standards could reduce the number of fatalities
on the NHS by almost 250 and the number of serious injuries by
up to 16,000 each year - putting less strain on our hospitals
and our health care system as a whole.

Productivity and Growth:

- The deteriorating state of our roadways and border
infrastructure is having a negative effect on our productivity
as a nation. Substandard and congested roadways hamper good
from reaching airports, ports, rail terminals and distribution
centres in an efficient manner.

- Our trading partners are committing to major reinvestments in
their roadway systems because of their economic and trade-
related public policies, while Canada still has no national
highway plan or ongoing funding structure. This threatens our
competitiveness in two important ways: giving foreign
competitors lower distribution costs into the Canadian market
and allowing them to lure business away from our trade routes.

- Every individual is affected. Congestion and poor road
conditions cause increasing wear and tear on vehicles,
additional stress on our roads and increased fuel consumption.
Potholes and uneven surfaces are hard on vehicles, and result in
higher repair bills, while increased crashes due to these same
surfaces drive up insurance rates.

The Environment:

- Urban transit projects are not enough - addressing our
environmental challenges should not be an issue of selecting one
mode over another.

- We need to consider a balanced approach to our country's
transportation requirements.

- Changing mindsets is key, as is encouraging 'eco-driving
behaviour', including: tax incentives for fuel-efficient and
hybrid vehicles; public awareness campaigns promoting
conservation and efficiency in fuel usage; funding for road
improvements to reduce congestion and ensure good road


- Poor road conditions and congestion negatively affect tourism -
acting as a deterrent to return visits and discouraging visits
to more out of the way attractions.

- An improved NHS would promote an increase in both domestic and
U.S. tourists with benefits that would be felt throughout
Canada. A bi-national study indicated that by 2020, delays at
the border will likely cost Canada over $450 million a year in
production losses related to tourism.

What Canadians Have to Say

Canadians say they want to see roads and highways, more than any
other type of infrastructure, be of greater importance to provincial
and federal governments.

- 46% of Canadians believe their roads have deteriorated in the
past year.

- Three out of four Canadians want the federal government to send
more on roads and highways to make them safer and more

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