News » Whistler

Poor driving and bad weather blamed for Sea to Sky carnage



ICBC study does not address volume

If a gambler were to assess the odds and place bets on the driver least likely to get killed or maimed while driving Highway 99, he might put his money on a female, over the age of 65, behind the wheel on a foggy Tuesday in June between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Conversely, of the 2,526 accidents reported on the "Killer Highway" in the last five years, more occurred in December than any other month. Saturday was the most likely day for an accident and between 3.01 p.m. and 6 p.m. was the time of day with the greatest number of accidents. The majority of those injured were female and between the ages of 15 and 24. Most crashes happened in clear weather. Only 0.3 per cent occurred in fog.

In total, the cost to the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia was $50 million.

Statistics don’t give the whole story but an ICBC study that compiles accident data from the Sea to Sky highway between Horseshoe Bay and Pemberton over the last five years does begin to paint a picture – one that shows weather and human error conspiring to produce motor vehicle accidents resulting in severe injury and death.

According to the report, the top four human factors contributing to crashes are: unsafe speed, driving without due care, following too closely and driver inexperience.

Weather was cited by police as being the top environmental factor contributing to crashes, followed a distant second by wild animals and impaired visibility.

"Some of these things we already knew. It’s just backed by facts now," noted ICBC’s Kathleen Hicks.

The ICBC report was released in March and it was prompted by public concern. "In recent months there has been considerable public attention focused on the Sea to Sky Highway," reads the ICBC report. "It’s a stunningly beautiful route up to Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton. It’s also a narrow, winding, weather-blown route which has gained a reputation for an alarmingly high occurrence rate of deadly motor vehicle crashes. A number of requests for road safety information on the Sea to Sky Highway have come to our department."

But ICBC didn’t have the figures at its fingertips. "We needed to get a good look at what was happening on the Sea to Sky, to get a look at our crash data as well as the police crash data and take it all together and therefore have a template to work from," said Hicks.

The report combines both ICBC claims data and police report data, something that hasn’t been done before.

Add a comment