Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone has issued the following statement on the report by the provincial health officer, Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Reducing the Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes on Health and Well-being in BC:
“We would like to thank Dr. Kendall and Dr. Henry for the tremendous amount of work they have undertaken to analyze crash and hospitalization data and to make recommendations aimed at continuing the downward trend in serious and fatal crashes in B.C.
“We share the same goal – to make our roads as safe as possible. We are reviewing the report in detail, and will give its recommendations serious consideration, as we work together toward this important goal.
“As this report notes, between 1996 and 2013, the rate of fatal crashes in B.C. has been cut in half.
“This downward trend in serious crashes reflects all of the positive work that has been undertaken to improve road safety in the province.
“Stricter penalties and enforcement for drinking and driving, investments and improvements made to the highway system, to highway maintenance services and to education programs over the last 15 years all have played a significant role in reducing crashes.
“Since 2001, the B.C. government has invested over $18 billion to upgrade and improve the transportation system. This includes the infrastructure upgrades to the Sea to Sky Highway, the significant engineering and construction improvements to the Trans-Canada Highway in the Kicking Horse Canyon in Golden, the ongoing Cariboo Connector project between Cache Creek and Prince George, and the safety upgrades to the Malahat.
“We have made effective infrastructure improvements to reduce crashes – from the installation of centre median barriers, to rumble strips, to roundabouts.
“Our maintenance contractors have made excellent advances in road maintenance, including detailed and sophisticated weather forecasting, low-temperature anti-icing agents and the introduction of new plowing equipment.
“We are also placing more focus on improving safety for cyclists and pedestrians. For example, we just completed the $7-million Stanley Park Causeway improvement project.
“While traffic fatalities and serious injuries have been dropping, we know there is always more we can do.
“Government cannot reach this goal on its own – which is why we continue to work closely with our road safety partners, including the B.C. Road Safety Strategy Committee, to address all aspects of the problem, including a focus on safe road users, safe vehicles, safe roadways and safe speeds.
“Government is also planning to strengthen our distracted driving penalties, as this has become one of the top contributing factors to death and injury on our roads. An announcement is expected in the coming weeks.
“And over the next three years, we will invest $2.7 billion to further improve B.C.’s transportation network – a B.C. on the Move commitment.
“This includes investing $75 million over three years in a new Road Safety Improvement Program (a doubling of funding over previous years).
“The Road Safety Improvement Program includes new avalanche infrastructure, safety improvements to crosswalks, signals, and intersections, new lane-marking technologies, livestock fencing, and a guardrail program. It also includes new road safety innovations, such as our digital variable speed signs and new, flashing wildlife warning signs.
“Motorists are also reminded of the 'slow down, move over' law, which now includes all vehicles displaying a flashing red, blue or yellow light. This law improves safety for first responders, CVSE, and tow truck drivers, as well as all roadside workers, including highway maintenance workers.
“We will continue to work with our partners throughout the province to make our highways and roads as safe as possible.”