There has been a dramatic drop in the number of crashes on the Sea-to-Sky Highway since the twisting mountain route was upgraded for the Olympics last year, according to the Ministry of Transportation

For years, fatal head-on-crashes and long closures were tragically common along the 125-kilometer section of Highway 99 that links Vancouver with Whistler. Between 1998 and 2007 63 people died on the Sea-to-Sky Highway. 

But according to figures released on Friday there were 73 crashes in 2010 — a drop of 66 per cent from the average of 215 each year in the previous decade.

The ministry says it wants three years of statistics before determining just how much more safe the Sea-to-Sky Highway is to drive.

But Whistler Councillor Chris Quinlan says the numbers should answer critics who believed spending $600 million to build barriers, widen and straighten the highway wouldn't make it any safer.

"Well [people said] if they make it faster, people will just drive faster and there will be more accidents, but that hasn't happened, because the enforcement's been there, and it's just a much safer highway," he said.

Quinlan says even though there have also been fatal crashes since the project was completed the old nickname Highway of Death now seems to be falling from use. 

"It's pretty much gone. I think that moniker, I can't remember the last time I heard it, so in my mind it's already gone," Quinlan.

The highway has also been closed several times by rockslides since if first opened in 1966, including one in 2008 that closed the route for five days.