The Abbotsford Police Department is hoping that small changes in crash statistics so far this year compared to 2012 will amount to big improvements in the future.
Const. Ian MacDonald reported on Friday that the city has not had a traffic-related fatality for 140 days.
This is longer than the previous stretch of about 125 days, when there were no such incidents from October 2012 to February 2013, but MacDonald said the department is encouraged by an improvement in the numbers so far this year.
There were three traffic-related fatalities in the first six months of last year, compared to two for that period in 2013.
Although this drop might seem minor to some, MacDonald disagrees.
“First and foremost, that one life is pretty important.”
At the start of 2013, the APD listed road safety as its top priority, following a year that saw nine traffic-related deaths and 480 crashes resulting in injury.
Initiatives have included public awareness campaigns, increased enforcement, and weekly (rather than monthly) APD road safety strategy meetings.
Upcoming plans include awareness videos featuring families who have lost loved ones in crashes.
MacDonald said in the first six months of this year, there were 252 collisions that resulted in injury, compared to 240 in 2012.
But the total number of crashes dropped to 709 from 801.
He said the department hopes that ongoing attention to the issue will bring about even greater change.
MacDonald likens it to the focus the APD previously placed on the city’s gang problems and ecstasy-related deaths. Improvement wasn’t instant, but dramatic results eventually occurred.
“It’s progress, although it’s slow progress,” he said of the collision numbers. “We realize road safety is going to be a tough one and is going to be a work in progress for a long time.”
The two traffic fatalities this year have both been pedestrians. Shaminder Brar, 34, was killed in a hit-and-run collision on Riverside Road sometime between Feb. 16 and 18.
On Feb. 28, an 86-year-old woman was struck while crossing at McKenzie and King roads. She died in hospital two days later.