Every year on the first of January I restart the collision counter on the DriveSmartBC website. In order to try and keep it accurate I check ICBC's latest collision statistics, calculate the daily average and tweak the code that produces the display. This year, I can't get data on the number of people injured by impaired drivers. I'm sure that you will agree that it is an important statistic to know.
Hoping for an answer, I contacted ICBC as they are the official keepers of the data. Sorry was the prompt response, since the provincial government removed the requirement to report collisions to the police in 2008 we can no longer provide that data. As ICBC does know how many collisions involve impaired drivers I find this answer somewhat suspect but it should still make us all pause and wonder. Are we losing touch with how often the bad things are happening on our highways?
I suspect that the main reason for the removal of the requirement to report collisions to police is the simple fact that there were just too darned many of them for the police to keep up with. This alone is a bad sign. To me it shows that we don't care about traffic safety because our insurance scheme will smooth things over and no one will really hurt too much. It's just another day on the highway.
At minimum, the police should attend and report on all injury and fatal collisions. The causes of the collision should be determined and the violators held to account, both by the insurance company and the justice system. If there are no consequences for having a collision other than inconvenience there will be less incentive to drive safely.
The author is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. To comment or learn more, please visit www.drivesmartbc.ca.
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Tim Schewe has been writing his column for most of the 20 years in his traffic enforcement service in the RCMP. It was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and now Castanet.net. Schewe retired from the Force in January of 2006, but the column became a habit and continues.
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