Lower Mainland traffic fatalities plunge

Now other countries want to learn about RCMP's successful strategies

In areas policed by the RCMP, traffic fatalities have plunged 38 per cent.

The drop from 2010 to 2011 “is unprecedented,” the RCMP said on Thursday.

The drop is receiving international attention from other police forces, including the Middle East and Asia.

There were 97 traffic fatalities in the Lower Mainland communities, which include Langley, that are policed by the RCMP, and 60 in 2011.

Fatalities have been dropping for the last five to six years, but this past year’s drop is the most dramatic.

“It’s fantastic news — 37 fewer deaths in one year alone – and it’s across four of our key areas that we focus on – impaired driving, seat belts, distracted driving and speed,” said Supt. Norm Gaumont who heads the RCMP’s Traffic Services division.

“Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like this,” Gaumont said.

The RCMP attributes the dramatic reduction to a combination of legislative changes, growing public awareness of the new laws, and the continued enforcement of those laws.

Gaumont warned that the numbers are still preliminary. They show:

Alcohol related deaths:  36 in 2010, 17 in 2011 for a 53 per cent reduction;

Seatbelt related deaths: 20 in 2010,  5 in 2011 for a 75 per cent reduction;

Speed related deaths: 38 in 2010, 20 in 2011 for a 47 per cent reduction

Distracted/Inattentive related deaths: 45 in 2010, 26 in 2011 for a 42 per cent reduction.

The decline in fatalities has attracted international attention from other police forces, Gaumont said.

At the request of the Kuwaiti Prime Minister’s office, Gaumont will visit the Middle East country for the second time next week, to help developing strategies that reduce traffic fatalities.

Kuwait, which has a population of four million, records approximately 400 traffic fatalities a year.

“Kuwait City has approximately the same number of vehicles on the roads as we do here in the Lower Mainland,” Gaumont said.

“And our issues are similar to their issues – aggressive driving and speeding, intersection problems and distracted driving. They looked at our laws and successes and they want to learn from us.”

The reduction in fatalities has also caught the attention of Indonesian traffic police. A senior advisor with the country’s National Traffic Police Corps discussed best practices with Gaumont last month.

“My message to both police forces is the same:  You need three key things: good laws, visible and targeted enforcement, and to maximize enforcement efforts with media attention.”