There are four main elements to protecting the lives of vulnerable users of the street system. Vulnerable users are defined as those not encased in the steel shell of a car and include cyclists and pedestrians. The best way to reduce fatalities and serious injuries is to enhance visibility, reduce speeds on roads and highways, change driver behaviour and have better designed roads that “drive” at the speed limit intended. For a vulnerable road user, if you are hit by a vehicle at 50 kilometers an hour you have a 10 per cent chance of survival. Had that vehicle been travelling at 30 kilometers an hour, your chance of survival after being crashed by a vehicle climbs to 90 per cent. That is why the Chief Medical Health Officer of B.C., Dr. Perry Kendall has been advocating for 30 kilometer an hour limits within cities and on treaty lands.
In Great Britain, the Chief Constable of Police for Britain’s roads has asked for the end of the ten per cent buffer where motorists are not being charged if they are going ten per cent over the speed limit. In the British example, a motorist going 35 miles per hour in a 30 mile per hour zone would avoid a ticket. Let’s say no more, states the Chief Constable. The rationale? “Let’s change the message – we are proud to be law enforcers. I do not want the public to be surprised, I want them to be embarrassed when they get caught… They need to understand the law is set at the limit for a reason.”The Chief Constable also thought that subjecting violators to speed awareness courses would have more of an impact than a fine or point demerits on a licence. As he observed “They should not come whinging to us about getting caught. If booked at 35 or 34 or 33 (in a 30mph zone) that cannot be unfair because they are breaking the law.”
Locally in Metro Vancouver the Chief Constable for the Delta Police Department, Chief Neil Dubord went on record about road violence in the City of Delta, noting that in 2016 with a 100,000 population that there were eight road deaths. He noted at the time “ Our traffic investigators look for root causes in order to focus our prevention efforts on three things: engineering, education and enforcement.” “The common thread in the fatal accidents in 2016 was not about road design or engineering; each one had some element of speed and/or distraction. And, most importantly, they were all preventable.”
In 2017, with their focus on speed enforcement and distraction, the Delta Police Department issued 20 per cent more traffic violation tickets (8,079), and were a visible presence on the roads and in the community. Traffic fatalities were reduced by 50 per cent, and there were no pedestrian fatalities in 2017. Enforcing speed limits and dealing with driver distraction meant that more families were not ripped apart by road violence. Kudos to Chief Dubord and the Delta Police Department who have gone on record and who are proactively working to achieve Vision Zero-no traffic fatalities or road violence injuries within the City of Delta.
February 1, 2018