Behind-the-Wheel

Over in less than a minute

There's been a major crash that has injured or killed someone on one of our highways.

The highway has been closed and everyone is being inconvenienced. The words killer highway or something similar has been mentioned and there are calls for the government to do something to make the highway safer.

Chances are, if you weren't involved in the resulting lineup, you found out about these incidents on either social media or via television news. Today, even on-line newspaper stories are often only two paragraphs long and provide just the barest of detail.

It's all over in less than a minute, and what have you really learned? Certainly not enough to make an informed decision on the situation or to advocate effectively for a solution.

If you do decide to get involved and try to make a difference, how do you find the necessary information to base an intelligent campaign on?

The bulk of the details are likely in the possession of the police and should eventually become public knowledge.

Please note my use of the word eventually. Some information can be released immediately, but many of the details may be held back until the conclusion of all legal proceedings.

Legal proceedings often take significant periods of time to be completed.

ICBC's crash maps of the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, Southern Interior and North Central areas of B.C. tell you where collisions occur, but not why.

Collision Statistics are available as well but only paint a picture in very broad strokes.

The Province of B.C. maintains a Collision Information System, but it is not available to the public. You are directed to make all requests for crash data to ICBC.

The Coroner's Service does publish verdicts from inquests, but the most recent example of a Verdict at Inquest is from a fatal collision in Invermere that occurred in 2011 and was heard in 2013.

A search for data at the municipal level revealed minimal information from the City of Vancouver.

All levels of government often have traffic safety committees.

Some present a very public face, such as the CRD Traffic Safety Committee.

Some, like the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and the BC Association of Chiefs of Police announce themselves, but provide little more.

Others prefer to remain secret. They do not accept input from the public, do not allow a public presence at meetings and do not publish reports. Check with your local government to find out more (hopefully).

Are you interested in digging for more?

Public access to information directions are available for the RCMP, as well as the provincial and municipal levels. Be aware that unless this information is about you, there may be a fee involved.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/collisions/its-all-over-less-minute

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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