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There has been press about the important ramifications of reducing vehicular speed in cities and places to 30 kilometers per hour (km/h)  from 50 km/h. Studies show that vulnerable road users-those folks biking or walking without the metal frame of a vehicle to protect them-can better survive car crashes at those speeds. Pedestrians and cyclists have a 10% risk of dying in a vehicle crash at 30 km/h. That risk increases to 80% being hit by a vehicle at 50 km/h.

Dr. Perry Kendall, British Columbia’s  Chief Medical Officer has released his  Annual Report entitled “Where the Rubber Meets the Road” which identifies motor vehicle collisions as a significant threat to the health of people in this province. Although the motor vehicle collision fatality rate has declined from 18.4 deaths per 100,000 population in 1996 to 6.2 deaths per 100,000 in 2012, British Columbia has a high rate of deaths, as well as a high rate of collisions causing serious injuries-444.5 major injuries per 100,000 population. That translates into 280 people being killed on roads annually, with another 79,000 seriously injured.

The human factors contributing to fatal crashes are speed (35.7%) , distraction (28.6%) and impairment (20.4%). It is troubling that for vulnerable road users, the rates of crashes and serious injuries has been increasing, from 38.7 % of crashes resulting in serious injuries  in 2007 to  45.7 % of  crashes resulting in serious injuries in 2009.

The Medical Health Officer’s report is comprehensive and points out the current challenges broken down by region. The report cites road design, distraction and speed as three major contributors that can be addressed, and recommended lowering speed limits to 30 km/h in cities. Not surprisingly, Minister of Transportation Todd Stone has put the kibosh on lower speed limits, citing that this was something  he has not heard about from local municipalities, and that such a change needed strong support. You would think when the Province is also paying for health care that they would be mindful on how to keep vulnerable road users as safe as possible with minimal investment. Slower road speeds in municipalities could prevent serious injuries and deaths to pedestrians and cyclists.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Pedestrian collision avoidance systems are also going to put a big dent in fatalities soon.

    I’m not sure if they’re part of the auto-braking standards that are getting rolled out in the US next year, but it’s coming and it’s going to be widespread like abs or traction control

    1. Sure that might help but too often the promise of future tech is just an excuse to delay and avoid action today. Maybe one day teleportation will also eliminate transport deaths, but we don’t have to wait for that day, we can solve it today by reforming land use, lowering speeds, and designing better streets.

    2. You say that, but but I’d be willing to bet that’s not what the stats will show. One will stop a car without human intervention, the other is mostly just wishful thinking and idealism.

      Also, slowing down and paying attention tend to be at odds with one another.

  2. “It is troubling that for vulnerable road users, the rates of crashes and serious injuries has been increasing, from 38.7 % in 2007 to 45.7 % in 2009.”

    I’m not sure what that means. % of what?

    It should also be noted that all road users are “vulnerable”. The rate of serious injuries and fatalities in cars is almost as high as pedestrians and cyclists. It’s just that the perpetrators are invariably the motorists. Lowe speeds would save motorists lives too.

    1. The Annual Report provides more information. On page 64:

      ” In 2007, a total of 1,473 vulnerable road users
      experienced serious injuries, representing
      38.7 per cent of MVC serious injuries. By
      2013 this number had decreased to 1,388
      but the proportion of MVC hospitalizations
      had increased to 45.7 per cent.”

      In the article, we see:
      “Minister of Transportation Todd Stone has put the kibosh on lower speed limits, citing that this was something he has not heard about from local municipalities”

      Minister stone must be ill informed or lying, since the Union of BC Municipalities has asked the provincial government on many occasions to allow municipalities to set default speed limits in their jurisdictions and have always been denied this request.

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