This year’s holiday CounterAttack campaign is kicking off this weekend with police roadchecks set up across the province. ICBC and police are urging drivers to plan ahead and make smart decisions to get home safely this holiday season.
Although COVID-19 has changed many things, it hasn’t changed the law – if you plan to drink, don’t drive.
“We know celebrations will look different this holiday season,” said Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s vice-president of public affairs and driver licensing. “If you’ve been drinking at home, please stay home and don’t drive. When you drink and drive, you not only risk your life but those of others on the road. We all need to do our part to prevent crashes and save lives. If you plan to drink, plan ahead.”
Impaired driving remains a leading cause of fatal car crashes, with an average of 67 lives lost every year in B.C. More than half of impaired-related crashes (56 per cent) occur on the weekend (Friday to Sunday).
“We fully support our road safety partners and the CounterAttack campaign and will be out in force over the holiday season to deter impaired driving,” said Superintendent Holly Turton, vice-chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee. “Police will utilize mandatory alcohol screening, Standardized Field Sobriety Testing and Drug Recognition Experts to identify and remove alcohol and drug affected drivers from our roads to make BC’s roads some of the safest in the world.”
For more than 40 years, ICBC has implemented impaired driving education campaigns and funded CounterAttack enhanced police enforcement.
ICBC leads two impaired driving education campaigns every year. Learn more facts and tips in ICBC’s infographic.
On average, 17 people are killed in crashes involving impaired driving in the Lower Mainland every year.
On average, 11 people are killed in crashes involving impaired driving on Vancouver Island every year.
On average, 23 people are killed in crashes involving impaired driving in the Southern Interior every year.
On average, 17 people are killed in crashes involving impaired driving in North Central B.C. every year.
Several police detachments throughout B.C. will invite media to attend CounterAttack roadchecks in their communities during a one-day blitz on December 5.
B-roll footage of a CounterAttack roadcheck is available for download.
Notes about the data:
*Fatal victim counts from police data based on five-year average from 2015 to 2019. Impaired is defined to include alcohol, illicit drugs and medicines.
Responding to an emergency can sometimes be a significant challenge. One call I was involved with had us trying to find a three vehicle pileup in the northbound lanes of a major rural highway near where there had been a recent fire in the median. There was no indication of how bad any injuries were, but since the highway is posted at 110 km/h someone is probably hurt so police, fire and ambulance were all dispatched.
Things went downhill from there. The incident was nowhere near the place where the last grass fire in the median occurred.
When we did locate it, it was in the southbound lanes. One car had gone off the road and two others had stopped to give assistance. No one was hurt, damage was minimal and all that needed to be called was a tow truck.
Multiple emergency services were stood down. Thank goodness no one else needed them in the meantime and they were not involved in a crash themselves during the emergency run to get to the scene.
Cellular phones are wonderful inventions. Enhanced 911 will give dispatchers some idea where you are calling from but that accuracy depends on how close together the cell towers are. In rural areas, this could mean that they are far apart and location data is not as precise.
Old cellphones without an account, or even a SIM card, may still be able to dial 911. If you are using one to call for help it may not provide location data that is as precise as a cell phone with a current account will be.
If you dial an emergency number other than 911, the call will not report any location data.
Your smartphone will allow you to determine your location’s GPS co-ordinates. These can be passed directly to the dispatcher to pinpoint the problem. Know how to find them on your phone before the emergency occurs!
Now that you have the cavalry coming, how much of it is actually needed?
Taking two minutes to stop and inquire about the state of affairs at this scene is not a major inconvenience for you and makes all the difference for the victims and emergency services. Dispatch can send only what is needed, or decide properly that this is going to be a disaster that needs a full turnout of everything available.
How many people are hurt and how badly? How many vehicles are involved and what kind are they? Is the road blocked? Which side of the divided highway is the collision on? Being able to answer these simple questions can tailor the speed and quantity of the response to only what is really needed.
Sometimes the most valuable piece of information can be the licence plate number of the vehicles involved, especially in the case of an abandoned vehicle that has not been marked with crime scene or fire line tape to show it has already been investigated.
Don’t stop reporting incidents like this. However, please do it intelligently.
Cst. Tim Schewe (Ret.) runs DriveSmartBC, a community web site about traffic safety in British Columbia. For 25 years he was an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, including five years on general duty, 20 in traffic and 10 as a collision analyst responsible for conducting technical investigations of collisions. He retired from policing in 2006 but continues to be active in traffic safety through the DriveSmartBC web site, teaching seminars and contributing content to newspapers and web sites.