Drop a Chevrolet Cavalier containing a non-seat belted crash test dummy from a height of 17 metres and what happens? The ground shakes. At impact the car is traveling about 60/km per hour, which crumples the engine compartment back to the front wheels, hurls the dummy’s head into the smashed windshield and hooks its arm behind the steering wheel. On Tuesday September 26th, this simulation of a head-on crash launched the third annual Zero Crash Month, an initiative by the Vancouver Police, the provincial government and ICBC to attempt to reduce the number of crashes in October, traditionally the most crash- prone month.
This year’s theme, "Everyone’s Driving Safely", addresses two goals. The first is to raise awareness of the life-altering effects of crashes on the people involved, and on their families. The second is to motivate individuals, communities and businesses to reduce the number of crashes by between one and five per cent by committing to drive, ride as a passenger, cycle or walk in a manner that is safe and responsible.
The commitment is spelled out in the following pledge:
“I commit …
- To wear a seat belt or use a child restraint for all trips.
- To leave five minutes early so that I won’t have to rush to reach my destination.
- To leave a safe distance between my vehicle and the vehicle in front of me.
- Not to drive when I am tired, angry or impaired by alcohol or other drugs.
- To use caution at intersections and crosswalks.
- To be visible, use hand signals, and wear a helmet when cycling.”
Participation in the initiative involves signing up to be a “safe road user” at www.zerocrashmonth.com
. Individuals who sign up have the chance to win a range of prizes including a new 2007 GM Pontiac Torrent with a five-star safety rating. Communities who register and reduce their crashes in October are eligible to win road safety grants totaling $93,000. Corporations are challenged to sign up employees and compete for prizes and employee recognition rewards. There will also be stepped-up law enforcement by the police targeting those who drive without wearing their seatbelts and those who fail to abide by the rules for intersection safety.
An announcement of statistics also herald this initiative, including a list of the top 10 crash locations in the Lower Mainland based on totals recorded from January to mid-September 2005. This list includes four bridges—the Lions Gate, Alex Fraser, Port Mann and Knight Street bridges, two Highway 1 intersections—Willingdon and Brunette, and four other intersections—Knight Street and SE Marine Drive, Lougheed Highway and Shaughnessy, Boundary Road and Kingsway, and 88th Avenue and the King George Highway.
For a listing of the top 10 crash cites in your community go to www.icbc.com/road_safety/crash_location.asp. …And reflect on this statistic, stated by BC’s Solicitor General John Les: “Every year [in BC], close to 80,000 people are injured in car crashes and more than 400 people die.”