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Dangerous Summer on the Highway

While crash statistics continue trending downwards—which is good—in the closing weeks of summer 2011 in the BC lower mainland, it doesn’t feel like the various road incidents of the past few months could or should add up to a ‘good’ bigger picture.

Pedestrian fatalities are up.  And, this past weekend The Province daily newspaper reported seven motorcyclist fatalities to date in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley in areas policed by the RCMP, compared to nine deaths “in the previous two years.”

The same article also reported on an incident in which 12 motorcyclists reportedly speeding at up to 200 km/h on the Sea-to-Sky highway were ticketed and had five of their motorcycles impounded.  The article ended with a summary of charges and tickets given out by the RCMP in July and August.

As absolute numbers, the tickets attest to an impressive amount of police work, but we aren’t told how they compare to previous summers.  The 4,885 seat belt violations though, no matter how they compare to previous years, are puzzling.  Not wearing a seat belt — the single most beneficial, universally available, and easy to use automobile safety device ever invented — is careless behaviour.  And these absolute numbers are more than half the absolute number of speeding tickets and more than double the number of “charges while using an electronic device.”

And its been a season of headline grabbing car crashes starting late June when a southbound car slammed into the back of a Granville bus slowing down at a bus stop during the Monday afternoon rush hour killing three of the car’s occupants—a family—and seriously injuring the driver.

On July 12th on Highway 7 near Agassiz, a ‘violent’ head-on crash between a police cruiser and a car with two young male occupants killed the 20-year-old driver and injured his 19-year-old passenger.  A month later another head-on crash: this one in Surrey when a lone driver speeding down the wrong side of Highway 10 near 136th Street rammed into a small SUV with three occupants. The lone driver and two of the SUV occupants were killed. The other SUV passenger suffered serious injuries.  An expert investigator called this “one of the worst” he had ever seen.

In the third weekend of August, a statistically ‘classic’ single-vehicle crash of a vehicle east of Fort Langley at about 12:30 am after being airborne and flipping several times.  The two male passengers aged 19 and 20 were seriously injured, one suffering from a head injury.  The young male driver, uninjured, was reported to be facing charges of impaired driving causing bodily harm.

A road rage case in West Vancouver in which a tailgating pick-up truck driver first punched the face of the driver who  moved over to let him by and then deliberately rammed him with his truck was described by the police as ‘very disturbing.’  The polite driver, saying how lucky he felt to be alive, needed 30 stitches to close his wounds.

Quite the summer.

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