Vancouver Island’s scenic Malahat Drive can be a hazardous trip, but it’s mostly not due to exceeding the speed limit, according to data released Wednesday by B.C. driver advocate group SenseBC.
ICBC and transportation ministry crash data for 10 years on the Highway 1 stretch north of Victoria were obtained via freedom of information regulations. SenseBC researcher Derek Lewers said the results show only 5.6 per cent of accidents on the Malahat from 2008 to 2017 were attributed by police to exceeding the speed limit.
Getting the crash data took months and an appeal the B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner, Lewers said.
As with other recent crash analyses of B.C. roads, “driver inattentive” was the biggest factor in Malahat crashes, at 25.6 per cent. Lewers says the Capital Regional District’s Traffic Safety Commission has lumped together speeding and driving too fast for conditions, at 12.6 per cent, for its push to have average speed cameras installed on the Malahat.
Transportation Minister Claire Trevena ruled out the speed cameras, which SenseBC calls “photo radar 2.0” this week, after a long lobbying campaign by the CRD. Trevena made the comments as she released a study of the Malahat that found that severe crashes were not frequent enough to justify the cost of an alternative route for times when the Highway 1 route is shut down due to accidents or other hazardous conditions.
A recent police enforcement campaign on the Malahat showed speeding was a big problem, at least on Sunday, Dec. 8. Police set up a speed trap for five hours that day and ticketed 19 vehicles for excessive speeding, which is more than 40 km/h over the posted limit. Each driver got a $368 fine and the vehicle impounded for a week, a penalty SenseBC says adds up to more than $2,000 with impound fees and increased ICBC premiums.
For gathering the official statistics, the Malahat is defined as the portion of Highway 1 between West Shore Parkway in Langford north to Mill Bay Road in Mill Bay.
Another 63 speeding tickets were also issued in the blitz, costing $138 for up to 20 km/h over the limit, and $196 for going 20 to 40 km/h over. Acting Staff Sgt. Ron Cronk of the CRD’s road safety unit said high-speed driving is a constant problem on the Malahat.
SenseBC counters that according to ICBC and transportation ministry data, with 90 million trips over the Malahat in 10 years, only one fatality was attributed by police to excessive speeding. Statistics show there were 414 crashes over 10 years, which Lewers called an “unremarkable” crash rate.
SenseBC co-founder Ian Tootill said he is pleased that Trevena ruled out speed cameras, but cited ministry data showing the Malahat speed limit should be increased.
“Let’s put our police resources to work effectively, watching for aggressive, incompetent and impaired drivers, and stop robbing the ordinary hard-working British Columbian who is not negatively impacting road safety,” Tootill said.