While traffic volume has increased along Highway 1 in the past decade, there has been a slight decline in vehicle collisions.
Since 2008, traffic has increased by 30 per cent between Salmon Arm and Golden through Revelstoke. However, according to data from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure that counts serious collisions, which includes fatalities/injuries, there has been a slight decline since 2013. In 2013, there were 101 collisions and in 2017 there were 93.
While there are more crashes between Revelstoke and Golden, the ministry said there is a higher rate of collisions per kilometre between Salmon Arm and Revelstoke. They did not specify why that might be the case or why collisions overall on both stretchs of highway are decreasing.
ICBC, collects the data and provides it to the ministry. Compared to provincewide data, there was more than 20 per cent increase in serious collisions between 2013 and 2017 for B.C.
Large truck traffic fluctuates from year to year, but the ministry said it hasn’t proportionately increased in the last decade. Between 2008 and 2017, large trucks were roughly one third of total traffic between Salmon Arm and Golden.
Each year, Highway 1 is closed numerous times. The ministry said road closures have not notably increased in the last ten years. Between 2007 and 2017, Highway 1 between Revelstoke and Golden was closed 480 times, while between Revelstoke and Salmon Arm it was closed 194. The majority of closures were due to avalanche control and vehicle accidents.
The ministry is converting Highway 1 from Kamloops to the Alberta border to a four-lane highway for improving safety and transportation for business. Construction is currently underway west of Golden. No estimation is given for the project’s completion.
The ministry said they use serious collisions data for policy changes, such as changing speed limits.
Jeffrey Brubacher, professor at the University of British Columbia that works with vehicle collision data, said there can be discrepancies between data sets and while data for fatalities on highways is “actually quite good”. By comparison, serious collisions data is not reliable.
He said serious collisions data relies on individual police assessment of the injured, which can vary from officer to officer.
“I think it can be a problem as some people use counts of serious injury crashes from police reports for policy evaluations.”
Brubacher is currently working on a study that is looking at how serious collisions data could be misreported and used in policy-making decisions.
The ministry said they expect traffic to continue to increase year to year.