Road safety is top priority for Abbotsford Police in 2013

The department responds to nine fatalities and 480 injury collisions in 2012.

This collision on Highway 11 near Old Clayburn Road on Oct. 15 resulted in the death of a 67-year-old Chilliwack woman.

This collision on Highway 11 near Old Clayburn Road on Oct. 15 resulted in the death of a 67-year-old Chilliwack woman.

The man stops at the well-marked crosswalk and waits for traffic to cease at the corner of Hillcrest Avenue and Parkview Street.

Behind him is a woman pushing a baby stroller. Two small children are walking with her.

A car to their left stops, and the pedestrians proceed north. They do not see that the vehicle to their right is not slowing down.

That car, travelling at about 60 km/h, crashes into the man and propels him 40 feet down the road, just missing the mom and kids. The brake lights do not come on until the small vehicle is well into the crosswalk.

The female driver had apparently been rifling through her purse just before the collision. The pedestrian survived the incident.

The Abbotsford Police Department (APD) is now hoping to use video of the incident, obtained from a nearby home, as part of a public education campaign this year.

The APD has made road safety its top priority for 2013, following a year that saw nine vehicle-related fatalities and 480 crashes resulting in injuries in its jurisdiction. (Crashes along Highway 1 are not included in these numbers.)

While overall reported crimes dropped 12 per cent from 2011 to 2012, the collision rate remained about the same and fatalities were up from four in 2011, said Insp. Tom Chesley in a presentation last Tuesday to the Abbotsford Police board.

Chesley, who heads the APD’s traffic section, said among the primary concerns is distracted driving.

This not only includes drivers talking on cellphones and texting, but things such as applying makeup, eating, adjusting the radio, and paying attention to their pet.

“Drivers are making conscious decisions to do bad things, and that’s how we are having our fatal crashes and our injury crashes,” he said.

Chesley said aggressive driving is another concern and includes speeding, running lights, and making unsafe lane changes.

But the APD isn’t concerned just about motorists. Chesley said half of the pedestrians involved in collisions, including cyclists, were at fault.

And even many of those who had the right of way could have avoided the collision by ensuring the driver had seen them.

“If you’re dead, there’s no point in being dead right,” Chesley said.

He said steps being taken this year include increased enforcement by the 12-officer traffic section, using a fleet of unmarked vehicles such as SUVs, pickup trucks and cars.

A traffic crime analyst will be hired to better pinpoint trends, and weekly strategy meetings will determine what is and isn’t working. This will include consultation with city staff and ICBC.

A public education campaign, which began earlier this month with the release of a poster about distracted driving, will continue throughout the year.

The overall goal is to save lives and reduce injury crashes by 10 per cent, Chesley said.

“It’s time to stop the carnage.”


* March 27 – Amarjit Singh Sidhu, 74, is hit by a van while using a crosswalk on Blueridge Drive east of Townline Road

• April 7 – Richard Bodhaine , 51, of Mission is struck by a vehicle while he is walking along Highway 11

• May 29 – a 51-year-old Coquitlam man driving a van collides with a pickup truck at Highway 11 and Bateman Road

• Aug. 1 – a pedestrian is struck by a commercial truck while walking along Riverside Road

• Aug. 31 – a 72-year-old male cyclist is hit by a truck at Bourquin Crescent and Mill Lake Road

* Sept. 17 – an 88-year-old man on a mobility scooter is struck by an SUV while using a crosswalk on Bourquin Crescent and George Ferguson Way, and later dies in hospital

• Sept. 23 – Brian Patchett, 22, is killed when the vehicle in which he is a passenger hits a hydro pole and flips onto its roof on Sumas Way near Vye Road

• Sept. 29 – a 24-year-old motorcyclist collides with a commercial truck on Downes Road east of Bradner Road

• Oct. 15 – a 67-year-old Chilliwack woman is killed in a head-on crash on the Highway 11 bypass near Old Clayburn Road