A car passes into our lane on Highway 63. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

People say that Fort McMurray is the world’s largest cul de sac, and that Highway 63, which forms that cul de sac where the oil sand mines end, has the reputation for being one of the world’s most deadly highways. Two lanes. Bad weather. Big trucks. Tired oil workers. People in a hurry. It’s a bad combination.

The highway around Fort McMurray has heavy commuter traffic. People often need three hours to get from a new housing development to work at the mines, a trip that would take 40 minutes without traffic. And there’s often traffic on the long haul to Edmonton and beyond.The provincial government of Alberta plans to build a parallel road, as it has for part of the stretch, so cars aren’t barreling along toward one another without any partition. The government says the collision rate is lower per vehicle traveled than the provincial average, but many of the crashes are fatal given the bus and truck traffic. The “Coalition for a Safer 63 and 881″ Web site currently mourns the death of seven people in a recent “horrific” crash.