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Opinion  

Roads not that dangerous

A B.C. Coroners Service report issued this week paints a grim picture of carnage on our highways and young drivers ill-prepared to be behind the wheel.

But a closer study of available numbers is nowhere near as shocking.

The coroners service is asking the province to review its drivers' licensing plan after the deaths of 106 youths who were killed in vehicle accidents between 2004 and 2013.

While any death is one too many, it has to be expected that the combination of human beings and fast-moving machines will result in occasional fatalities. And it does.

The report's numbers equate to just 12 deaths a year. Unfortunate, yes, but not a crisis.

B.C.'s chief coroner wants a review of B.C.'s graduated licensing program and even raised the spectre of a return to photo radar. Although you won't hear anyone use that term, what else do you expect "automated speed enforcement" to mean?

That puts the governing BC Liberals in a tough position, as they campaigned on repealing the unpopular law enforcement cash cow.

Of course, we are in favour of making our roads safer. But, they're not particularly unsafe now.

Given the fact we live in Canada's most mountainous province with changeable weather conditions and high elevations, it's no surprise people sometimes die.

According to BCAA, 88 people die because of distracted driving every year in B.C. Now, that is something preventable and worth enforcing. Ticketing someone for driving 10 clicks over the limit doesn't make anyone safer.

Distracted driving is the second leading cause of car crash deaths, and drivers are four times more likely to crash while on the phone.

Novice drivers are 45 per cent more likely to crash than those aged 25-34, but that is more a factor of inexperience than anything else. The roads would be perfectly safe if nobody drove at all.

At the risk of sounding callous, people die every day. We can't legislate common sense or safety.

The provincial government's own stats show 1,084 people die in B.C. every year from accidental death or injury. And about 90 people die every day across Canada from all causes. Twelve of those deaths is not an alarming figure.

No matter how hard we try to enforce protective measures, fate will find other ways to accidentally end people's lives.

— News Director Jon Manchester

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