On average, a person dies on B.C. roads nearly six out of every seven days of the week – and it needs to stop.
In British Columbia in 2014, this is a death rate more than three times higher than that due to homicides (88). As Justice Minister Suzanne Anton will tell a conference of road safety partners later this morning, things need to continue to change.
“Even though the number of road deaths in B.C. has been trending down over the last decade, these numbers are shocking,” said Anton. “To see 290 people dead in the last year because a driver chose to disobey the speed limits, couldn't leave their phone alone or had some drinks before getting behind the wheel is as frustrating as it is tragic. And we are going to keep doing something about it.”
During the two-day conference led by RoadSafetyBC, government and partners like ICBC, Doctors of BC, regional health authorities, MADD, police, municipalities and others, are expected to endorse an updated Vision Zero approach. Adopted by B.C. in 2013, Vision Zero emphasizes that no loss of life is acceptable.
This approach will continue to build on B.C.’s innovative drinking driving law that, according to newly updated stats, has now saved 260 lives in under five years. It will anticipate tough, new sanctions for distracted driving within the next six months. It will lay out the path forward to help B.C. achieve its goal of having the safest roads on the continent by 2020.
The Vision Zero approach also identifies the critical need for road safety improvements beyond just enforcement and keeping dangerous drivers off our roads. It requires a full partnership approach. For example, B.C. has already seen creative and innovative approaches in infrastructure design that aim to reduce accidents, such as Richmond’s pedestrian scramble or Kamloops’ “Yield here to pedestrians” program. This type of work must continue as well.
“Government is not sitting still. In the last year alone, we have made roads safer by increasing penalties and awareness for those who refuse to slow down and move over for emergency vehicles, standardizing the types of winter tires British Columbians need to stay safe in our challenging weather conditions and working to keep slow moving traffic right so others can pass,” said Anton. “This is on top of the $18 billion we have spent on road improvement infrastructure all around the province since 2001.”
- The Road Safety Strategy is a framework and structure for action to ensure B.C. has the safest roads in North America by 2020.
- Between 2005 and 2014, road deaths have decreased by 36%, from 452 to 290.
- Since government’s tough new approach to drinking and driving was implemented in September 2010, British Columbia has seen a 52% reduction in alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities. In fact, B.C.’s immediate roadside prohibition law has now saved 260 lives.
- In October 2014, the Ministry of Justice amended the Motor Vehicle Act to add three penalty points to all offences associated with driving while using a hand held electronic device.
- This summer, RoadSafetyBC held a public consultation on distracted driving that generated over 10,000 submissions and comments from the British Columbians and road safety stakeholders. Tougher penalties for those drivers who refuse to put down their electronic devices are expected to be in place within the next six months.
- B.C. has invested in $18 billion of road infrastructure improvements since 2001, including 33 new passing lanes on rural highways, 6,700 km of rumble strips, 18,500 km of repaving, and 14,000 km of median and roadside barrier installed, to name a few.
- Continued police enforcement and tougher penalties combined with numerous improvements made to highways, and roads and vehicles over the years has resulted in a 31% decrease in serious injury crashes since 2003.
View the Moving to Vision Zero strategy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsyvrkEjoXI