Editorial: Safer travels
Traffic levels have risen with the temperatures this month, reminding us that driving safely is a serious issue on Salt Spring.
May 14 to 20 is Canada Road Safety Week and the perfect time to preach better, safer and slower driving practices.
First the good news: Canadian Motor Vehicle Traffic Collision Statistics note that the number of fatalities per 100,000 population (5.0) in Canada in 2017 was the lowest on record; and that the 9,960 serious injuries from motor vehicle crashes was down 7.4 per cent from 2016. But another 155,000 Canadians are injured annually, if not “seriously,” while on roads and in vehicles. Transport Canada estimates the cost to society at $37 billion annually.
Impaired driving, distracted driving and driving while fatigued are all major factors.
According to the Road Safety Monitor, almost 27 per cent of Canadian road fatalities in 2015 involved a drinking driver. Drugs other than alcohol are found in 42.4 per cent of tested fatally injured drivers, but ICBC has found that distracted driving now causes more motor vehicle accidents than impaired driving.
Then there is the impact of vehicle speed and challenging road conditions. A few weeks ago, island resident Grant Grayson proposed through a letter to the editor the reduction of the speed limit on the curving parts of Fulford-Ganges Road. A recent crash near the Slegg Lumber site underscored the problem of having an 80 km/h speed limit in that area.
In fact, few stretches of Fulford-Ganges Road between Ganges and Fulford are suitable for 80 km/h travelling. That’s especially the case as population and vehicle levels on Salt Spring continue to rise and because the road has not been paved since 1986.
A preliminary attempt to have the Ministry of Transportation reduce the speed limit on the island’s main road several years ago was not successful, but it is time to take another run at making a change. Whether through the Salt Spring Transportation Commission, Capital Regional District, Chamber of Commerce or an ad hoc citizens body, the regional transportation ministry office must be contacted about this issue.
Even dropping the speed limit to 70 km/h on our main road would boost safety substantially. Transport Canada estimates that even a one per cent reduction in speed reduces the chance of a fatal collision by five per cent. Let’s make the effort for safer travelling.