RCMP OFFICERS who patrol the region’s highways wrote up a number of violation tickets for a variety of offences last month in the region.
During December, North District West Traffic Services officers wrote a total of 270 violation tickets, according to Sgt. Pamela Scott, the officer in charge of the officers in this part of the north.
Of those tickets, 19 were alcohol related, 86 were speed related and 31 were seatbelt related, she said.
The majority of the other 134 tickets fell under the classification of “other moving traffic,” she added.
North District West covers the area from Haida Gwaii to Kitimat and Houston, and north to Dease Lake and Atlin.
Also during December, North District West officers worked 430 additional hours and focused on prevention.
The Terrace area benefitted from 116 additional hours of policing, said Scott.
Money to pay the officers was provided over and above regular budgets and there’s no word yet if that will be repeated.
Nine detachments in the area participated in the Christmas Counterattack Campaign.
Statistics on crashes in the entire North District Traffic Services area, which includes everything north of 100 Mile House to the border with the Yukon and Northwest Territories and from the Alberta border to Haida Gwaii, show that the number of fatalities on roads has decreased in the last year.
The death rate across the north decreased by 12 per cent from 2010 to 2011 – from 70 deaths in 2010 to 62 deaths in 2011.
The 70 deaths happened in 59 crashes and last year’s 62 deaths were a result of 56 crashes.
The North District is more prone to have multiple deaths in one vehicle than other areas in the province, aid Sgt. Pat McTiernan unit commander Prince George Regional Provincial Traffic Services, who compiled the statistics for the North District.
“What we think that’s attributed to is the fact people are travelling long distances and travel as family or in groups, whereas in larger centres or the Lower Mainland, people tend to travel in individual vehicles,” said McTiernan, about why the north has more multiple deaths in one vehicle.
One of the key elements to occupant survival is the seatbelt, he said. “While seatbelt use was not a causal factor in crashes, it was one of the main contributors to either death or serious injury when not used. It has been determined that targeting seatbelt use has a major impact on occupant survivability,” continued McTiernan.
“Seatbelt enforcement and changing driver behavior have contributed greatly in reducing our death and injury rates, not only in the district, but across the province. The numbers hold true for both injury and serious injury crashes.”
When it comes to accident causes, alcohol is a big factor in the death rate, said McTiernan.
The problem with impaired driving deaths was that drivers would not suffer any immediate consequences but that changed in 2010 with the introduction of the Immediate Roadside Prohibitions (IRP), in which vehicles can be impounded if a driver fails a roadside breath test.
And if drivers blows a warn, between 0.05 and 0.08, then their driver’s licences are taken away.
Up until then, the death rate from impaired driving was consistently about 30 per cent year after year, said McTiernan.
Since the introduction of the IRP, there has been an almost 40 per cent decrease in road deaths from impaired driving province wide and for the North District, the amount is closer to a 60 per cent reduction, said McTiernan.
A growing trend is drug impairment, including both prescription and illicit drugs, and with the introduction of the IRP, an increase in 24-hour suspensions for drugs became prevalent, he said.