It's All Over in Less Than a Minute

StopwatchThere's been a major crash that has injured or killed someone on one of our highways. The highway has been closed for a period of time and everyone is being inconvenienced. The words killer highway or something similar has been mentioned and there are calls for the government to do something to make the highway safer.

Chances are, if you weren't involved in the resulting lineup you found out about these incidents on either social media or via television news. Today even on line newspaper stories are often only two paragraphs long and provide just the barest of detail.

It's all over in less than a minute, and what have you really learned? Certainly not enough to make an informed decision on the situation or to advocate effectively for a solution.

If you do decide to get involved and try to make a difference, how do you find the necessary information to base an intelligent campaign on?

The bulk of the details are likely in the possession of the police and should eventually become public knowledge. Please note my use of the word eventually. Some information can be released immediately but many of the details may be held back until the conclusion of all legal proceedings.

Legal proceedings often take significant periods of time to be completed.

ICBC's crash maps of the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, Southern Interior and North Central areas of BC tell you where collisions occur, but not why. Collision Statistics are available as well but only paint a picture in very broad strokes.

The Province of BC maintains a Collision Information System, but it is not available to the public. You are directed to make all requests for crash data to ICBC.

The Coroner's Service does publish verdicts from inquests, but the most recent example of a Verdict at Inquest is from a fatal collision in Invermere that occurred in 2011 and was heard in 2013.

A search for data at the municipal level revealed minimal information from the City of Vancouver.

All levels of government often have traffic safety committees.

Some present a very public face, such as the CRD Traffic Safety Committee.

Some, like the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and the BC Association of Chiefs of Police announce themselves but provide little more.

Others prefer to remain secret. They do not accept input from the public, do not allow a public presence at meetings and do not publish reports. Check with your local government to find out more (hopefully).

Are you interested in digging for more? Public access to information directions are available for the RCMP, as well as the provincial and municipal levels. Be aware that unless this information is about yourself, there may be a fee involved.


Lack of information

Posted recently about trying to get information on AB63 to Fort McMurray and not even getting acknowledgement of my request.

I also noticed in reference to the accident at Brisco one of the recommendations was to decrease the speed limit. Now one has to question this request and it goes along with my normal complaint that is the only thing police officers ever think about. Reduce the speed. Why not make a recommendation regarding the actual cause of the accident?

In this case the posted limit is 100K the truck was estimated to be travelling at a minimum of 74K. I very much doubt the estimate of a minimum would be out by 26k. Nobody was driving the posted speed.

Why the suggestion to reduce speed? The two drivers that survived both reported that the car pulled out without the driver stopping or looking directly into an on-coming vehicle. Why not put the blame where it lies, careless driving?

I have often mentioned that most countries that have a lower accident rate than Canada have a higher speed limit. I also had it pointed out that France is reducing the speed on rural roads. When I checked into this the roads in question are two lane rural roads with out separating guardrails. Unfortunately even though they are reducing speed the last figures I found for highway deaths is for 2013 and road fatalities per 100,000 motor vehicles has the following. Canada 9.5, France 7.6, Germany 6.8. If you go with 100,000 per inhabitants, Canada 6.0, France 5.1, Germany 4.3.

On the other hand France had a total death rate on its roads in 2013 of 3,268 and estimated 3,500 in 2016 which is almost identical to the estimated population increase. So is it really a concern?

To me it is fear mongering and falls into the same category as this article where we hear of the accidents but not of the cause.

Why are we closing the highways for hours to collect information that is never used? I stand by my suggestion. Quickly take a few measurements, fly over the scene with drones taking both video and still pictures. An overhead picture gives just as much if not more than one will find on the ground, especially if it is snowing

I worked almost my entire career in the consulting industry. Over the last two decades safety became paramount. When ever there was an accident requiring medical attention that accident was analysed. Everyone had a chance to put input into ways to improve safety. There was a final report written within a short period of time and taken up at the next safety meeting and the recommendations gone over.

Why is this not done with highway accidents? Or is it that the authority figures that should be working to reduce these incidents don't want the outcome known as it will point to their incompetence in correcting the real problems?

And one question. Most accidents in the southern interior involve vehicles that are from outside the area. Why are accidents involving vehicles from outside the area included in the accident rate of the area? In most cases it is incompetent or inexperienced drivers operating in conditions that for the locals fall under normal conditions. For outsiders any speed is operating at an unsafe speed for the conditions.

Exactly this^

With 288 road fatalities in 2016 (compared to 411 in 2007) it makes it a doable task to release public incident reports that provide what happened, why, and how to prevent it. And if its driver error - you can't fix it with a speed limit decrease - it can only be fixed with public disclosure of what happened.

Because if it is as you say - a driver pulled out with not a care in the world - lowering the speed limit is not the answer. Increasing it dramatically is. That way people will treat highway as something serious. Highways should be posted at 160km/h white signs, but leave the yellow speed advisories as is.

That way people will have to use their own heads and participate in traffic, instead of mind-numbingly tail-gaiting each other at 100km/h in one massive rolling road block, that would become a pile up in a second.

Speed-limit should represent the upper most reasonable speed in ideal conditions with no traffic. Maximum limit should be considered too fast by the majority of drivers. Take the 85th percentile, add 40km/h = perfect speed limit. Unfortunately in Vancouver, 85% of people stay north of the "speed limit" most of the time when not obstructed by traffic. Its not what a maximum limit represents, or should reasonably represent.

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