Thursday, April 15, 2010

Meeting Last Night - Traffic Safety

We had a great meeting last night with RCMP Supt. Norm Gaumont who is the officer in charge of Lower Mainland Traffic Services. He presented on what his group is doing to reduce traffic related fatalities in the Lower Mainland and all of British Columbia. Gaumont started the presentation by asking us what we though the safest road is in the Lower Mainland. It turns out that Highway 1 is the safest because of the congestion on the route. While there are fender benders all the time, they are not fatal. He expressed concern that the new eight lane expansion will turn Highway One from the safest route to a possible death trap as they don't have the resources to enforce such a large road. He also pointed out the importance of installing medians in roads as they reduce fatalities in a big way. On the topic of speed, Gaumont said that photo-radar was one of the best tools to reduce speed related deaths and he would like to see photo-radar back in place. It is amazing how much data there is on traffic safety, and it is great to see how the RCMP use this data to help save lives. After looking at the data, they found that the most dangerous speeders also drink and drive and don’t wear a seat belts. By stepping up impaired driving and seat belt enforcement, they reduced speed related death. In fact more people die from not wearing seat belts then all the murder in BC each year! PS: smoking pot and driving is just as fatal as drinking and driving.

One of the new areas that Lower Mainland Traffic Services is looking at is pedestrian and cycling safety. On the pedestrian front, drivers turn right at intersections into people killing them. On the cycling front, driver go into bike lanes and kill cyclist. Gaumont believes that a massive education campaign targeting all road users will be the most effective way to reduce these fatalities. Gaumont also said that building bike lane on secondary streets and building separated bike lanes will improve safety. He talked about installing rumble strips just outside of bike lanes to notify driver that they are encroaching on it.

Finally, Gaumont said that we need to change the helmet law for motorcyclist as we basically don’t have a helmet law. We also need to step up enforcement of the bicycle helmet law. Unfortunately he doesn’t have the money needed to step up enforcement. Of the $60 million a year his division gives to local municipalities, he receives $0 back. He is hoping to change this. Please check out the presentation and audio below.


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