Fancy Running Into You Here!

Intersection CrashThe latest edition of Quick Statistics has been published by ICBC. The new rounded data it contains is for the year 2016 and that year there were 330,000 collisions reported where 64,000 resulted in either injury or fatality. Over all, collision rates have steadily increased from 2011 to 2016.

After browsing through the document I see that ICBC issued 3,370,000 Autoplan and temporary policies. At first glance, that's about one collision for every ten vehicles during the year. (If you want to do the research and the math, I'll let you refine and justify that number.)

288 people died, down 7 from 2015, but still above the five year average of 285. To be included in these numbers, a motor vehicle had to be involved and the incident had to take place on a public road. Collisions involving only cyclists or cyclists and pedestrians are not tracked, possibly because there is no Autoplan claim involved.

Obviously, we run into each other a lot and many people are hurt, some fatally.

If you're interested, the crash involvement lists animals (11,000), cyclists (2,100), heavy vehicles (15,000), hit & run (54,000), motorycles (2,600) and pedestrians (3,100).

Despite many years of education and enforcement, 58 fatal victims were not wearing their seatbelt. By now, you would think that everyone knew how to wear a seatbelt properly and that it must always be used to prevent being out of place when the airbag deploys.

Intersections are dangerous places as about one third of collisions occur there. Crash maps are available for the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, the Southern Interior and the North Central region intersections in B.C.

Why are these crashes happening? ICBC attributes them to five broad reasons: speed, impaired driving, distracted driving, high risk driving and driving too fast for conditions. For fatal crashes speed is the primary contributing factor in 30% of them, followed by distracted driving at 28% and impaired driving at 22%.

High-risk driving behaviour includes failing to yield right of way, following too closely, ignoring a traffic control device, improper passing and speed.

Our government announced the move toward a Vision Zero model for reducing collisions in January 2016. The introduction explains:

British Columbia’s goal is to have the safest roads in North America by 2020. In line with the Vision Zero movement, the ultimate goal is to eliminate motor vehicle crash fatalities and serious injuries. The British Columbia vision will be achieved by: targeting key areas of concern; advancing the Safe System Approach; continuing with the implementation of the BC Road Safety Strategy; and enhancing road safety research capacity in the province. Improved communication and engagement with all British Columbia citizens, particularly local communities, stakeholders, and First Nations, is essential for moving toward Vision Zero .

Better road safety is not achieved by accident; it is created through deliberate, innovative, and evidence - driven practices. Step by step, kilometre by kilometre , British Columbia’s roads can be made safer for everyone.

The responsibility for reducing these significant numbers ultimately lies with you and me. A great place to start would be a return to an attitude of respect for each other when we share the highway. Otherwise, we'll continue to say "fancy running into you here!"


Not gonna happrn

Lane filtering has been scientifically proven to save lives. Vision zero will not happen until riders are allowed to remove themselves from the death zone between bumpers.

Auto Accidents

I believe a lot of accidents are caused by driver "attitude", not paying "attention" and not being "alert" at the wheel.

When we get driverless cars, I wonder if they will go over the posted speed limit, hopefully that will be regulated and I can also see that driverless cars will stop at all red lights and stop signs.  That is one of the pluses as a lot of accidents are at intersections.

ICBC Quick Stats

1. What is troubling about the Quick Stats is the very fact that they are "quick"  - very shallow and inadequate analysis, even as a "media primer". There is a need for a great deal more detail, both in terms of content and of analysis. In this overview, for instance, we have no indication of the nature of the collisions reported other than whether or not they happened at intersections. What of: temporal factors; road condition factors; vehicle numbers and types per collision (eg, in a motorcycle crash, it matters a very great deal whether another vehicle was involved, and of what type); mv operator driver history; etc etc etc.

I'd be satisfied with the Quick Stats as an introduction, linked directly to a set of more detailed analyses. But without that linkage, the various safety decision-makers are basically flying blind.

2. Nothing in this report specifically addresses the significant rate of change in the collision numbers and outcomes  - you have to know that there's been a dramatic upswing in the year-over-year rate of change, beginning 2013-2014 (notably, after the speed limits were increased across the province). This is a factor of immense significance.

3. There is very little contextualization  - the raw numbers per region tell you one thing, but a cross-regional comparison of outcome ratios tells you something very significantly more important. The Southern Interior's outcome numbers are dramatically out of step with the rest of the Province, yet the raw crash rates are not. This tells us that, for reasons ICBC prefers not to elucidate, crashes in this region are significantly more severe. Broad provincial campaigns, therefore, may be entirely missing the point in this particular region.

4. Unless and until the Province and Municipalities get their collective fingers out and implement the proven traffic safety measures that are producing results in other jurisdictions, Vision Zero will indeed not be achievable. Dramatic improvements are needed in the roadway infrastructure, driver screening, automated enforcement systems, and vehicle safety sandards to name but a few of the significant concerns.

5. Motorcycle safety may indeed be marginally improved by a very closely-controlled implementation of "filtering" in extremely limited circumstances. In other words, bluntly, filtering cannot produce the significant outcome changes needed. ABS, as a required mandatory standard level of PTW equipment, can, is proven so to do, and yet ....... the industry continues to be allowed in this country to sell vehicles which in a very large portion of the motorized world are now illegal because unsafe.

6. Overall vehicle safety is not in any respect addressed in ICBC's Quick Stats. We are left completely in the dark as to what numbers of collision-involved vehicles are, for instance, right hand drive grey imports. What percentage of the collision-involved vehicles have been "modified" (lifted, lowered, powered-up, aftermarket wheels/lights/tints etc)? Of pedestrian injuries and fatalities, what percentage relate to just this sort of modification, and/or to inadequacy of OEM or aftermarket equipment? 

7. On that note, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety analysis has demonstrated that the vast majority of new, and by extension used, vehicles on the road have headlights which fail to illuminate the roadway far enough ahead to support night time driving speeds above 70 to 80 kmh (and in many cases, much, much lower). Where are the nighttime speed limits which correlate to our knowledge of the limits to drivers' available vision? We have the capacity to automatically change speed limits for precisely this reason; variable speed limit signs on the Coquihalla and other highways do this for weather conditions - what of light conditions? Again, this question is completely ignored in the ICBC stats.

8. Sad but true: even though driver error can be identified as a primary cause of 90% or so of collisions,  that doesn't mean that we're going to accomplish the necessary level of change in traffic safety by focussing exclusively, or even primarily, on attempts to change drivers. The human being isn't evolving very quickly, and is notoriously resistant to change. The majority of improvements in traffic safety have instead been accomplished through safety engineering and safety regulation/enforcement. Regardless of the endless moaning of the industry and the public about over-regulation, the fact remains that appropriate speed limits, seat belts, helmets, roundabouts, red light cameras, automated speed enforcement, and so forth are the way we've managed to keep the stats as low as they are. This approach, as it also includes Active Driver Assistance Systems and thence later autonomous vehicles, V2V and V2X systems, will necessarily be the primary way forward. 

9. Overall, our habit of endlessly blaming the victims of traffic collisions (bad cyclist, bad pedestrian, bad driver, etc etc etc) is nothing but a sop to the status quo. If we genuinely want to make it possible for people to get around without paying for their shopping with injury and fatality, then we have to start ensuring that all the players responsible for the various elements of our mobility systems are, firstly, adequately and appropriately informed (and not relying on the window dressing provided by ICBC's stats), and secondly, held responsible for the outcomes of their decisions. It should not be acceptable for a local roads department, for instance, to create a "driver trap" (blind intersection, uncontrolled level crossing, uncontrolled left turn etc), and then shrug off the inevitable collisions and injuries as the responsibility only of the road users. Similarly, it cannot be acceptable for any level of government to increase the speed limit on any given stretch of roadway without a commensurate investment in proven safety upgrades of the roadway itself.

10 Well, I digressed. ICBC's Quick Statistics: thankfully much more up to date, at very long last. For which very limited improvement, we are deeply grateful.

Canadian Statistics

Transport Canada's national overview for 2015 is even more shallow. That's the latest....

Completely agree. When you

Completely agree. When you try to teach traffic safety, it simply can't be done on the basis of the publicly available Canadian statistical summaries and analyses. Very grateful for the Australians. 

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