Data on vehicle collisions lacking

Are we losing touch with how often the bad things are happening on our highways?

Every year on the first of January, I restart the collision counter on the DriveSmartBC website.

To try and keep it accurate, I check ICBC’s latest collision statistics, calculate the daily average and tweak the code that produces the display.

This year, I can’t get data on the number of people injured by impaired drivers. I’m sure that you will agree that it is an important statistic to know.

Hoping for an answer, I contacted ICBC, as they are the official keepers of the data. “Sorry,” was the prompt response. “Since the provincial government removed the requirement to report collisions to the police in 2008, we can no longer provide that data.”

As ICBC does know how many collisions involve impaired drivers, I find this answer somewhat suspect but it should still make us all pause and wonder. Are we losing touch with how often the bad things are happening on our highways?

I suspect that the main reason for the removal of the requirement to report collisions to police is the simple fact that there were just too darned many of them for the police to keep up with.

This alone is a bad sign. To me it shows that we don’t care about traffic safety because our insurance scheme will smooth things over and no one will really hurt too much. It’s just another day on the highway.

At minimum, the police should attend and report on all injury and fatal collisions. The causes of the collision should be determined and the violators held to account, both by the insurance company and the justice system.

If there are no consequences for having a collision other than inconvenience there will be less incentive to drive safely.

For more information on this topic, visit www.drivesmartbc.ca. Questions or comments are welcome by e-mail to comments@drivesmartbc.ca. Tim Schewe is a retired RCMP constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. His column appears Friday.

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