What is the difference between a “recommendation” and a “requirement”?. Do those two words conjure up different understandings? They should when persons’ lives are at stake.

We have decided that from now on stop signs will only be recommended. We’re removing some at selected locations.

The Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) seemed to make it clear when they stated in their manual from 1986 entitled “Manual of Geometric Design Standards for Canadian Roads”:

“From each approach to an intersection, sufficient sight distance along each intersection leg to allow vehicle operators to see approaching vehicles in time to avoid collision is required.”

Clearly there should be no ambiguity in this wording. Required means required, not recommended.

So when the Saskatchewan Department of Transportation did not provide a “sufficient sight distance” at the intersection of the Humboldt Broncos multiple-fatal collision on April 6, 2018, should that fact not be reported as a failure of something that was required? Yet that is not what has been reported. The news media have reported to the public that the Saskatchewan Transportation Department’s failure to provide proper visibility within the sight triangle at the Humboldt Broncos collision site was a “recommendation”, not a requirement. In apparent contradiction to the TAC manual. If required safety standards are simply recommendations then they should also apply to other laws that protect the public, alcohol impairment for example.

Why not use the September 27, 2015 multi-fatal collision involving Marco Muzzo as an example. Mr. Muzzo’s alcohol impairment was found to be the cause of the deaths of four persons, including 3 children at the intersection of Kirby Road and Kipling Ave in Vaughan, Ontario. If the law against drunk driving was just a “recommendation” should the cause of the collision to turned to some other factor? Maybe speed of the other party? Maybe some other neglect? Maybe Mr. Muzzo should not have received the 10 year prison sentence that he did? Does that make any sense?

Clearly if there is a requirement for someone or some agency to do something, and they did not do it, and many fatalities were caused as the result of that neglect, then that someone or agency should be held liable or convicted of some crime. It should be that simple. So why is it not that simple?