EDITORIAL: Stay safe driving in the snow

The weekly editorial for the 100 Mile Free Press

Yesterday (Dec. 4) saw one of the first big snowfalls of the season so far (though it still wasn’t that much).

Snow means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. For the new Mt. Timothy owners as well as the 100 Mile Nordics, I’m sure snow is a welcome sign. They’re far from the only ones looking forward to playing in the snow.

Everyone from little children to snowmobile clubs will be looking forward to get out and enjoy the white powder.

However, there’s also a flip-side to that coin. Looking at fatalities, November and December are the most dangerous months in B.C. for pedestrians, according to the BC Coroners Service.

Furthermore, December is also the most dangerous of all the winter months. On average, 22.2 fatalities occur in December in B.C. (excluding pedestrians), compared to less than 20 for January and February, which are actually among the safest months based on the number of fatalities.

Undoubtedly, the dip is, between snowbirds and tourism, at least in part because there are fewer road users. However, it’s not just about volume.

The Interior (as defined by the health authority boundaries) is by far the most dangerous stretch, with 34 per cent of all MVI (motor vehicle incident) deaths in the last 10 years, followed by Fraser at 26 per cent, Northern at 16 per cent, Island at 14 per cent and Vancouver Coastal at 10 per cent.

All of this is a good reminder to make sure to tread carefully while driving on our roads in the coming weeks.

It’s also a good time to remind drivers to wear their seatbelts, especially men.

The BC Coroners Service was only able to confirm restraint use for 49 per cent of male deaths with 35 per cent using no restrains and 16 per cent unknown, compared to restraints used in 71 per cent of female deaths with 18 per cent not using restraints and 11 per cent unkown (2011-2016). That’s even more significant than it may look at face value as 69 per cent of all fatalities are male.

Finally, it may be worth cautioning younger drivers. In all but two of the last 10 years, the highest number of fatalities was in the 19 to 29-year-old age group. In 2017, that grim crown was taken by the 30 to 39-year-old age group and in 2009 the 40 to 49-year-old age group took it. For both the 19 to 29 and the 30 to 39-year-old age groups over 50 per cent involved alcohol and/or drugs between 2008 and 2016.

Ultimately, whether there is snow or not, there’s never a bad time to think about road safety.


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