Dr. Perry Kendall responds to SENSE BC criticism

Update: July 21, 2014: Dr. Perry’s response to criticism in his letter to the editor of The Vancouver Sun:

Dr. Perry Kendall, has responded to our criticism that doctors are not road safety engineers and that they should stick to what they know.

Yes, he’s cherry picked his information (as we do admittedly) to support his bias. In his OpEd piece he said “There is, in fact, little controversy in the scientific literature on the association between speed, crashes, and related death.” Yet in his most recent letter he refers to the work of Norwegian traffic safety researcher Rune Elvik.

Here is the first sentence in the preface to Elvik’s 2004 report “Speed and road accidents”: “The relationship between speed and road safety is a highly controversial and emotionally charged subject.”

Yes it is, and that’s exactly our point and Dr. Kendall doesn’t get it apparently so we’ll say it again. We don’t need DOCTORS or SCIENTISTS on the public payroll to offer subjective opinions based on cherry picked research that has nothing to do with their field of expertise.

Elvik’s research asserts slower is better and it assumes the availability of full time invasive enforcement to achieve compliance. Norway and Sweden have some of the slowest speed limits in Europe where Rune Elvik has his audience.

Nobody disputes the role of speed and crashes, nor the fact the faster you go (when you hit something), the more damage will be done. That’s not up for debate. What is up for debate is how speed limits should be set.

The Vancouver Sun Letters: Monday, July 21: Doctors’ speed concerns supported

“Re: Speed limit plan based on the facts, July 17

Ian Toothill and Michael Cain state that assessing the risk of increasing speed limits should be based on science, not emotive cherry picking of the data. The opinion piece from B.C.’s public health physicians (New limits may charge death toll, July 14), and our previous submissions to the B.C. Rural Highway Safety and Speed Review, are based on, among other sources, a series of meta-analyses, which in total reviewed 115 studies examining the relationship between speed and car crashes. The conclusions, published by Rune Elvik: in 2004, 2009, and 2013, confirm the powerful relationship between speed, injuries, and fatalities and are consistent with other published reviews.

While a 2003 report, Review and Analysis of Posted Speed Limits and Speed Limit Setting Practices in B.C., prepared for the ministry of transportation and referenced in the Rural Highway and Speed Review, does cite one B.C. study that found decreases in crashes following a speed-limit increase in 1998, the authors state “The reduction in total crashes . . . did not follow the same trends found in most other crash investigations,” and “It is possible other factors unrelated to the speed limit influenced the crash reductions.” The 2003 review also cites eight studies looking at the impact of decreasing speed limits, six of which showed a reduction in crashes, and 11 studies that looked at increases in speed limits, eight of which showed an increase in crashes or fatalities.

While we will be happy to be proven wrong, we are of the opinion the evidence to support increasing speed limits as a safety measure, is at best, extremely limited.


B.C. provincial health officer”

Dr. Perry Kendall’s original The Vancouver Sun OpEd here:

Raising speeds flies in the face of road safety, B.C. doctors warn


  1. barry friesen

    November 28, 2014

    There are no statistics on speed killing anyone.

    In the province of BC in 2010-last readily available statistics, 31,169 people died.

    Approximately 80% we age 65+ -totally expected and mostly accepted.
    Cancer deaths were 9095-largely preventable as these are largely lifestyle diseases.
    Cardio Vascular deaths accounted for 6443. Again these are primarily preventable lifestyle diseases. We do enjoy our vises. Could you imagine the enforcement fines being administered to these people if similar force was put to bear on this category of “speed killing”?!

    Unintentional deaths were 579. I think all deaths are, but these are of the Darwin Award style.

    Suicide deaths in 1-44 yrs old were 206, suicide in age 45-64 were 174. Shockingly, I’m told 80% are from the aboriginal community.

    Surprisingly, deaths in the 15-24 and 25-44 age groups do not even mention auto & truck deaths as a leading cause of death or any age group for that matter. These “youth” groups are targeted by insurance and medical groups as death creators-not so in BC. They may be accident creators but are not “leading causes of death”. Not by a long shot!
    https://www.vs.gov.bc.ca/stats/annual/2010/ -see Table 23.

    Liver disease accounts for another 213 & Infant Mortality 163.

    Auto & Truck Deaths 2010 BC were 142-took out ATV and boating from the vehicular deaths. This includes drunken driving deaths, distracted driving deaths, sleeping at the wheel and kissing my girlfriend and every cause of death in an auto or truck in BC in 2010. Shockingly tiny, given the ample enforcement to prevent these tragedies and tragically no breakdown supporting speed as a major cause of these. Leaders and intellectuals we call these rule makers? Likely as intellectual as we are apathetic.

    Total Deaths in BC in 2010 31169
    Deaths of People 65+ in 2010 24559 78.79303%

    Cancer 9095 29.17963%
    Cardio Vascular 6443 20.67118%
    Unintentional 579 1.85761%
    Suicide 1-44 yrs old 80% aboriginal 206 0.66091%
    Liver 213 0.68337%
    Suicide 45-64 80% aboriginal 174 0.55825%
    Infant Mortality 163 0.52296%
    Auto, Truck Deaths 2010 BC 142 0.45558%
    Deaths 1-14 yrs 67 0.21496%
    Deaths 15-24 yrs 267 0.85662%
    Workplace Deaths 2010 143 0.45879%

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