EDITORIAL: Saving young drivers a priority

The province must look for ways to strengthen its graduated licensing system for young drivers,

The statistics are stark.

A total of 106 young drivers were killed in B.C. between 2004 and 2013, according to Chief Coroner LIsa Lapointe in a report last week.

The report found that speed, impairment or lack of seatbelt use were contributing factors in most cases.

And while the death rate for drivers aged 16 to 18 has declined by two thirds since 2008, it remains the leading cause of death for the age group, with teenage boys aged 17 and 18 at greatest risk of death or injury.

The coroners’ analysis showed 68 of 106 drivers were at the “novice” stage when they died. Of those, 18 had consumed alcohol and seven were driving with too many passengers who were not family members, and without a supervisor.

There were 14 deaths of young drivers with a learner’s licence, the first stage of the graduated system. Of those, 11 were driving with no supervisor, 10 had consumed alcohol, three were driving during restricted hours and two had more than one non-supervisor passenger in the vehicle.

Distraction by mobile phone use was found to be a factor in only one case.

There’s something wrong here, and it appears young drivers aren’t getting the necessary tools needed to be safe drivers.

The province must look for ways to strengthen its graduated licensing system for young drivers, and we support the call by Lapointe for a pilot project of electronic speed enforcement in high-risk areas to reduce the number of young people who die in car crashes.