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Ches Crosbie Barristers

Speed Rarely A Major Factor In Collisions, Say RCMP

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In an interview last week, RCMP Sgt. Marc Coulombe said that despite a recent spike in serious accidents in Newfoundland and Labrador, serious and fatal accidents had been in decline from 143 in 2006 to 86 in 2012. This is in the areas under RCMP jurisdiction. Thirty-eight serious collisions occurred in the first half of this year. Fatalities average about 29 a year.

If this is evidence of a long-term trend toward fewer serious accidents and fatalities, at least in areas policed by the RCMP outside St. John’s/Mount Pearl/Conception Bay South and Corner Brook, then this is welcome news for advocates of road safety and may be a testimony to safety initiatives like the “Don’t Text and Drive” campaign.

It would be interesting to compare the RNC statistics, which cover what may be a busier and more difficult driving environment in the congested urban areas around and in St. John’s.

But another interesting and important point emerges from the interview with Sgt. Coulombe. He said that “speed is rarely a major factor”, and 85 to 95 percent of collisions are caused by driver error.  In other words, speed does not by itself cause accidents, but speed can make accidents caused by the errors made by other drivers worse.

This is worth keeping in mind when you are passed on the Outer Ring Road by someone in shorts on a very fast motorcycle doing 160 to 170 kph, for example. As provocative as this degree of speeding is, assuming the driver had the necessary skill in managing a motorcycle safely at those speeds, he was probably not going to come to harm unless some other driver on the highway made a mistake. As well all know, they often do.

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