The BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit estimates that 175 crashes happen every day in B.C. (Black Press file photo)

The BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit estimates that 175 crashes happen every day in B.C. (Black Press file photo)

Treat collisions like COVID

COVID-19 has shown that public behaviours can influence public health outcomes

This editorial previously misquoted ICBC statistics on motor vehicle collisions in British Columbia. The editorial incorrectly stated that 7,600 Islanders died in collisions — this is false — ICBC reported 7,600 ‘casualty crashes’ on Vancouver Island in 2019, which refers to crashes where there was either an injury or a fatality.

Last year — on Vancouver Island alone — there were 41,000 car crashes. 11,000 Islanders were injured. ICBC reported 7,600 ‘casualty crashes’ which means crashes were a person was either injuried or killed. In B.C. as a whole, there were 295,000 crashes, 92,000 British Columbians were injuried, and there were 63,000 casualty crashes. Injuries and fatalities occur across all age groups.

The BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit estimates that 175 crashes happen every day in B.C. resulting in one fatality and 10 acute hospitalizations per day.

“Speeding, distracted driving (ex. mobile phone use) and impaired driving (alcohol, drugs or medications) are the leading contributing factors for motor vehicle collisions,” BCIRPU states.

All of those actions carry heavy consequences — fines, loss of a license, and prison time — still the behaviours continue.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that governments are capable of taking great measures to combat a crisis. A key part of crisis management is effective communication. Though governments around the world haven’t always succeeded in effectively communicating COVID-19 restrictions, many have held daily press briefings on case counts, hospitalizations, and fatalities.

When people can see that there is high transmission of COVID in their community it makes them more cautious. More people wear masks, social distance, and stay home. The BCCDC COVID-19 dashboard displays data daily on both provincial and regional levels.

Why not create an ICBC collision dashboard with the same capabilities? British Columbians could see how many collisions happen in their communities, where they happen, and why they happen. Daily press briefings may not be necessary, but the regularly publishing of information may help deter dangerous driving.

Children in B.C. are educated on road safety all the way until they graduate high school. Adults are regularly reminded about road safety by public initiatives. Every driver already knows how to increase road safety: slow down, leave your phone alone, and do not get behind the wheel if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Motor vehicle collisions are one of the biggest public health issues in British Columbia, and Canada as whole. They don’t have to be.

Incident claims in B.C. dropped sharply during the lock down period from March 15 to May 2, 2020, resulting in $158 million in savings for ICBC. The NDP have committed to issuing an insurance rebate because of the savings.

If drivers start treating collisions like COVID they can save far more than just money on insurance. They can prevent injuries, and they can save lives.

So, let’s all be kind, be calm, and slow down.