The number of crashes reported to ICBC in B.C. in 2015 (the most recent data available) shows an increase of approximately 136 per cent. Black Press file photo

The number of crashes reported to ICBC in B.C. in 2015 (the most recent data available) shows an increase of approximately 136 per cent. Black Press file photo

Car crashes on the rise in B.C.

Bad driving behaviours could be the top contributor

British Columbia has seen a marked increase in car crashes in the last few years, according to ICBC.

The number of crashes reported to ICBC has jumped by 23 per cent in just three years – from 260,000 in 2013 to 320,000 in 2016. That’s an average of 875 crashes per day in the province.

According to a new survey completed by Insights West, most drivers say that driving in the province has gotten worse in the last five years – pointing at bad driving behaviours as one of the top contributors to B.C.’s road problems. Respondents feel that drivers today are more distracted, more aggressive and more impatient, making driving in B.C. more dangerous.

Despite this, the survey also found that 99 per cent of all respondents considered themselves to be “good” or “excellent” drivers. Yet the same respondents incorrectly answered a series of road test questions, with 78 per cent of respondents having at least one incorrect answer.

In addition, approximately 99 per cent of all respondents confessed to driving in an emotional state at least some of the time; 32 per cent felt that it was okay to “bend the rules” every once in a while if no other drivers were around; and 18 per cent admitted to being an aggressive driver.

But there was a silver lining to this survey, according to Mario Canseco, vice president of public affairs at Insights West.

“Ninety-six per cent of survey respondents were aware they have a critical role to play in improving the safety of our roads in B.C.,” said Canseco. “This is a great starting point to open a dialogue with all drivers to take a look at their habits.”

ICBC is now launching a new road safety campaign to encourage all drivers to reflect on their driving habits.

“Even if we’ve never been in a crash, many people have experienced near misses,” said Joanna Linsangan, a spokesperson for ICBC. “We can all benefit from safer roads when we start ditching those bad habits – like texting, being impatient or not shoulder checking – while behind the wheel.”

The campaign will include media advertisements, partnerships, public outreach and online resources, including an online quiz to help shine a light on areas where drivers may need improvement.

“Ultimately, our goal is to reduce the number crashes in B.C.,” said Mark Blucher, ICBC’s President and CEO. “Not only do crashes impact lives and cause serious damage, they also translate into costs pressures that affect insurance rates for all B.C. drivers. We’re asking everyone to help by doing their part through our drive smart campaign.”

Drivers can take a quiz online to test their driving skills at www.icbc.com/road-safety/drive-smart/