ICBC talks road safety with Cranbrook Council

Representatives of ICBC's Road Safety Program were in the regular council meeting Monday to talk about safety measures and partnerships.

Representatives of ICBC’s Road Safety Program were in the regular council meeting Monday to talk about road safety measures and potential partnerships.

David Dean, road safety engineer with the Road Improvement program, and Ingrid Brakop, the road safety co-ordinator of the Road Safety programs for East Kootenay, Shuswap, and Nicola Thompson regions, talked about the Insurance Corporation of B.C.’s role in making the provinces roads safer.

Dean said in B.C. there are an average of 260,000 collisions on the roads each year, resulting in 77,000 injuries and 357 fatal injuries.

In the Cranbrook area there were 1,200 crashes in 2012, resulting in 250 injuries.

“Of note there were 10 pedestrian crashes in Cranbrook that involved vehicle collisions with pedestrians,” he said.

He said ICBC uses the statistics to identify higher probability crash locations and then focus on making those intersections and roadways safer.

Dean said ICBC focuses on known causes of collisions by encouraging safer drivers, safer vehicles and safer roads.

The Road Improvement program has been around in B.C. for more than 20 years and began with a $1 million budget. Dean said they now have $8 million to spend on road safety and improvement in the province, which allows them to participate in about 250 projects a year.

He said the current program is valuable and for every dollar spent, ICBC gets a return of $5.60 of claims costs.

There are reactive projects that focus on dealing with areas where collisions are occurring.

These include things like traffic signals, dedicated left turn lanes, advanced left turn arrows and pavement treatments that create a more skid-resistant road.

“We’re looking at improving pedestrian facilities, both along the roadway and at crossings,” he said.

Along the roadways, the program installs barriers, rumble strips and projects that highlight curves using innovative technologies.

In municipalities, he said they work to reallocate space of roadways to meet the needs of the community.

“A lot of arterial streets have gone in as four lanes and traffic volumes don’t warrant that amount of capacity,” he said.

The other types of projects are proactive, which he said concentrates mostly on vulnerable road users, like pedestrians and cyclists, by building better crossings and roadside facilities.

Some of the new things they are implementing are uninterrupted power supply traffic lights that stay on in power failures, speed radar boards and pedestrian countdown timers.

“One thing we’re particularly excited about is modern roundabouts,” he said. “From a road safety perspective we’re seeing studies that show there is a 76 per cent reduction in injury-related collisions in modern roundabouts, and there’s 35 to 50 per cent total reduction in overall collisions. That would be the collisions that are property damage only.”

Dean said the Road Improvement program has participated in the creating of over 50 roundabouts over the past few years. The average contribution is about $58,000.

Modern roundabouts are new in B.C. so ICBC created a roundabout handbook for municipalities, that talks about the benefits, such as keeping traffic moving, and also how to get over the initial hump of the learning curve for drivers.

He said roundabouts are safer for pedestrians as well, since they are only crossing one lane of traffic at a time.

The Road Safety program also offers a safety audit of traffic safety designs.

In Cranbrook, Road Safety projects included the upgrading of stop signs and crosswalk signs for better reflection. They are also in the process of a road sign and marker review of Cranbrook.

Coun. Sharon Cross mentioned the boy who was hit last Thursday on the intersection of Victoria Avenue and 2nd Street North, which was identified in the review.

“There are some pedestrian vehicle issues, so an audit would be great in that regard,” Cross said.