Traffic & Safety
A large aggregate operation can require dozens of heavy trucks per hour to enter and exit the pit, to carry aggregate to its destination. This traffic can alter traffic patterns many kilometres from the pit or quarry, and can have a negative impact on road safety. If there are residential areas, schools, horse-and-buggy traffic, busy 4-corner stop intersections, rail or bike-path crossings or other considerations along the haul route, the safety issues can be magnified.
In addition to noise and dust issues, truck traffic can pose health and safety risks to others using the roads. According to the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association, trucks hauling sand, gravel and stone can mean the following:
- Collisions with other vehicles or pedestrians
- Brake failure or rollover
- Dust or stones in the air or on the road due to improperly secured loads
- Traffic slowdowns
- Road damage, pot holes or ruts due to length, frequency and weight of trucks.
Several of these issues may be due to overloading, a problem identified by the Ontario Dump Truck Association in 2014, then by the province in 2018 as well as both in late 2020. See also https://www.ihsa.ca/Topics-Hazards/Aggregates.aspx and https://www.caledonenterprise.com/news-story/9606947-police-fire-on-the-scene-of-major-collision-highway-10-in-caledon/
Recent research on dust, especially on fine particulate matter produced by the aggregate or diesel truck exhaust shows health impacts, especially when idling while waiting to enter, fill or exit the site. Since significant quantities of aggregate end up in cement and concrete, they contribute to the 5% of those industries the 3% that road transportation of all kinds contributes to atmospheric dust as well as to other industrial processes and smelting.
PM 2.5 particles can affect human health by negative impacts on lungs, heart, and brain. Research by Drs. Hong Chen, Richard T. Burnett, Ray Copes, and others reveals that short and long-term exposures are harmful.