WHEREAS the Alberta Government has announced that it will implement all nine recommendations from the report on traffic safety prepared by former RCMP Assistant Commissioner Don McDermid entitled Saving Lives on Alberta’s Roads: Report and Recommendations for a Traffic Collision Fatality and Injury Reduction Strategy; AND WHEREAS one of the report’s nine recommendations calls upon the Province to undertake a thorough review of current driver education and driver examinations in the province; AND WHEREAS driver errors are contributing factors in 90 per cent of traffic collisions according to the 2004 Traffic Collision Statistics and the McDermid report identified male drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 as having the highest rate of involvement in casualty collisions;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Provincial Government to reinstate driver education as part of the high school curriculum as part of its anticipated Traffic Safety Plan for the Province as a means to improve road safety amongst beginning drivers.
There is no shortage of road safety, or conversely, road collision statistics. For example, of particular relevance for rural municipalities is that although 80 per cent of Alberta collisions occur in urban areas, more people are killed in collisions in rural areas. Collisions in rural areas account for 71 per cent of all fatal crashes. The most common driver errors leading to casualty collisions were following too closely, running off the road, and making a left turn across the path of oncoming traffic. As noted in the Saving Lives on Alberta Roads: Report and Recommendations for a Traffic Collision Fatality and Injury Reduction Strategy (the McDermid Report): “Road safety faces the challenge of having many participants, a few reluctant players and no champion. It is included in the mandates of Transportation, Solicitor General, Justice, Health and Wellness, Learning and others, but unfortunately, it is not the first priority.” A few years back, students could take driver education in high school in Grade 10. Subsequently, policy direction changed and it was dropped from the provincial curriculum. Currently in rural Alberta, accessibility to training and cost is prohibitive due to geographic distance. Of the organizations consulted for the June 2004 McDermid Report, the majority said that a better job of preparing beginning drivers needs to be done. Since the Alberta Government has acknowledged that it is continuing to develop a new comprehensive Traffic Safety Plan in its recent release of the 2004 Traffic Collision Statistics, and since road safety is included in the mandates of several provincial departments, once can assume that this is probably the best time to get Alberta Learning to explore its role in road safety as the plan is being developed. Therefore, it should be timely to advocate that the high schools in our province provide driver education and training to beginning drivers.
The Alberta Traffic Safety Plan is a comprehensive strategy designed to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries in the province. It outlines key initiatives to help prevent motor vehicle collisions, build safer roads, enforce traffic laws, and better educate all Albertans about traffic safety. However, it is the government’s position that private service providers are best positioned to offer driver education more cost effectively than the public education system.