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Posted: October 2, 2017

Winter speeder crashes on the rise

Winter 2016 data shows a 10% increase in motor vehicle casualty crashes where driving too fast for the conditions was a contributing factor 

Last winter’s extreme conditions contributed to a 10% increase in motor-vehicle casualty crashes in B.C. between October and December, where driving too fast for the conditions was a contributing factor. This is a 10% increase from 2015, when 570 casualty crashes occurred, as compared to 626 in 2016 Police Traffic Accident Systems Data (police-attended crashes, 2012–2016), notes a Winter Driving Safety Alliance press release.

While last year’s weather was unusual for some parts of the province, on average, each year in British Columbia the number of casualty crashes due to driving too fast for conditions doubles in December compared to October. Between 2012 and 2016, an average of more than 260 casualty crashes occurred in December compared to approximately 130 in October (police-attended crashes, 2012-2016).

For those who drive for work, October, November and December are the most dangerous months. Almost 30 per cent of all work-related crashes resulting in injury and time-loss claims occur during these three months.

In December 2016 alone, WorkSafeBC claims from crashes that resulted in injuries and lost time from work were 38 per cent higher than in December 2015.

Depending on where you drive in the province, winter road conditions vary, from snow and ice in the north and on high mountain passes, to rain and fog commonly found in the Lower Mainland and southern Vancouver Island. Drivers need to prepare for the possibility of changing road and weather conditions, and adapt.

“I encourage all drivers to keep themselves, and others who use the road, safe in the wintry months ahead. Anything a driver can do to prevent an accident from occurring, whether it’s by slowing down, abiding by road signs, or being a little more present while driving, will help to keep more people safe,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour.

“We want to remind everyone to ensure their vehicle is prepped and ready for winter weather in advance. This means having proper winter tires (Mountain Snowflake or M+S tires) for certain routes, checking DriveBC before you head out, and giving yourself extra time to travel in bad weather conditions,” added Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Between October 1 and March 31, most B.C. highways require passenger vehicles to have winter tires (three-peaked mountain and snowflake, or mud and snow) and commercial vehicles to carry chains.

“Each and every worker in the province deserves to go home safely at the end of the day, whether they work in a fixed workplace or their office is on the road. Many BC workers who drive for work are at greater risk of injury during the winter months because driving conditions are more extreme. The Shift into Wintercampaign reminds us why being prepared before road conditions deteriorate is so important – to prevent serious work-related injuries and deaths. Being prepared can save lives,” stated Al Johnson, Vice President, Prevention Services, WorkSafeBC.

The Winter Driving Safety Alliance advises all drivers to prepare now to stay safe on the roads this winter: 

Don’t go — If conditions are bad, postpone your trip if possible.

Plan your trip — If you have to travel, check road and weather conditions and select the safest route. Give yourself extra time to get to your destination to avoid rushing, and have an emergency plan if you get stuck.

Prepare your vehicle — Install a set of four matched winter tires and keep an emergency kit in your vehicle. Every year, be sure to give your vehicle a pre-season maintenance check-up.

Slow down and drive to the conditions — Even the most confident and seasoned drivers are at risk in hazardous road conditions. Slow down to match road conditions and maintain a safe following distance, at least four seconds, between you and the vehicle ahead.

For employers and supervisors — The Winter Driving Safety online course and Toolkit on the Shift Into Winter website provides useful information for planning, implementing and monitoring a winter-driving safety program.

For more information about what you can do to stay safe while driving this winter, visit ShiftIntoWinter.ca.

The Winter Driving Safety Alliance is a multi-agency working group sharing a common goal of reducing the frequency and severity of winter-related motor vehicle crashes. It comprises: Ambulance Paramedics of B.C. CUPE 873, BCAA, B.C. Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association, Mainroad Group, B.C. Forest Safety Council, B.C. Trucking Association, Finning, Government of B.C., Insurance Corporation of B.C., Justice Institute of British Columbia, Kal Tire, Pacific Coach Lines, RCMP, WorkSafeBC, Automotive Retailers Association, Trucking Safety Council of B.C., City of Prince George, and Tire and Rubber Association of Canada.

Lead image: A file photo of a BC Ambulance leaving a crash scene on Highway 3 from Chad St. Pierre Photography.

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