With the recent surge of serious highway crashes in British Columbia, we wanted to publish this list of BC's most dangerous highways compiled by Global News earlier this year. Although these numbers may seem quite high, if you take into account the severe and vast weather conditions along with the complex nature of our road systems, some might say the numbers are quite low.
Below are the 8 deadliest highways since 2004 in terms of fatalities.
1. Revelstoke-Golden (Highway 1: 38 fatal crashes)
The 148-kilometre route has long been considered one of the most dangerous major highways in all of Canada. With few shoulders and long two-lane stretches without dividers, the mountainous route is frequently beset with major accidents, shutting down the highway entirely. Governments continue to spend hundreds of millions improving parts of the road, but multiple fatal accidents still happen year after year.
Here’s another way of looking at it: From 2004 to 2013, there were 38 fatal crashes between Revelstoke and Golden and 17 between Abbotsford and Hope.
Meanwhile, the average daily traffic from Abbotsford to Hope was 17,000 vehicles in 2013, according to data from the provincial government. From Revelstoke to Golden? Just 5,400.
2. Burnaby-Mission (Highway 7: 33 fatal crashes)
Built in 1941 when Metro Vancouver communities north of the Fraser were much smaller, this stretch of the Lougheed Highway had six fatal crashes in 2013, most in B.C. for that year. While several parts of Highway 7 have four lanes, other parts are two lanes and dotted by homes and narrow streets. The spate of recent accidentshas some local politicians calling for change.
“It’s a winding road that goes out to Mission, and needs to be once and for all upgraded,” says Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart.
“But it takes a lot of senior government funding.”
Maple Ridge Mayor, Nicole Reed, said Lougheed Highway leading in to Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows is essentially a big choke point. “At busy times of the day, we see backup in traffic, so it’s definitely a frustration point for drivers in our city,” she said.
3. Merritt-Hope (Highway 5: 32 fatal crashes)
The majority of fatal crashes on the Coquihalla come on the southern half, with 13 fatal crashes between Merritt and Kamloops and four crashes at the 5/5A interchange. It’s gained a measure of infamy through the Highway Thru Hell TV show, but Jamie Davis, who stars in the series, says the highway itself is structurally sound.
“I can’t criticize the Coquihalla. The main factor is you’re driving over a mountain. It’s not a flat road, it’s a mountainous highway,” he says.
4. Fort St. John-Fort Nelson (Highway 97: 30 fatal crashes)
The northernmost major commercial route in the province, mile 47 to 283 of the Alaska Highway has long been tricky to drive, especially in the winter months where ice and wind make for a dangerous combination. But those who live in the Peace say it has gotten more treacherous as the region has grown and the number of trucks has increased.
“It’s just a reality of infrastructure not being kept up,” says Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman. “We’re at a point where we have inadequate roads for the type of traffic that we get, and the weight of those vehicles on the road.”
5. Prince George-Quesnel (Highway 97: 27 fatal crashes)
You could make the case that the entire Cariboo Highway, from Cache Creek to Prince George, is the most dangerous long route in the province, with 71 fatal crashes in total from 2004 to 2013. The government is in the middle of a decade-long project of widening the area, dubbed the “Cariboo Connector“, to four lanes in several different areas.
T-6. Surrey-Abbotsford (Highway 1: 26 fatal crashes)
The busiest stretch of highway in British Columbia, it’s been greatly upgraded in the last decade due to the Port Mann/Highway 1 Improvement Project. Flat, divided and well-maintained, the number of accidents are largely due to the sheer number of cars using it every day.
T-6. Nanaimo-Courtenay (Highway 19: 26 fatal crashes)
What was once a dangerous route down the middle of Vancouver Island has become much safer since a new highway further inland was built at the turn of the century. The older, southern stretch of the highway from 19A to Highway 1 are where the vast majority of fatal crashes have taken place in the last decade.
8. Hope-Lillooet (Highway 1 & 12: 25 fatal crashes)
Despite its relatively low traffic, the narrow, winding road has had many fatal accidents over the decades, which was part of the impetus for building the Coquihalla 30 years ago. The provincial government worked with the Fraser Canyon Traffic Safety Committee last decade to enact a number of improvements and since then, accidents have gone down. 17 of the 25 fatal crashes took place between 2004 and 2008, compared to just 8 between 2009 and 2014.