To mark National Road Safety Week, May 18 – 24, the Canada Safety Council and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police is drawing attention to four specific risks behind the wheel that are deadly, devastating and #NotWorthTheRisk.
These are speed, distraction, impairment and lack of seatbelt use.
According to the most recent data available from the International Transport Forum Road Safety Data (ITFRSD), speed is a factor in approximately 23 percent of fatal crashes in Canada, with 40 per cent of the drivers in these cases being between 16 and 24 years of age.
A study commissioned by Transport Canada shows that 70 percent of Canadians admit to exceeding the speed limit at times on residential and rural roads, while 81 percent admit to doing so on highways.
Any action that takes a driver’s eyes off the road can constitute distracted driving, though a predominant focus of the issue continues to be device use behind the wheel.
In some parts of Canada, distracted driving fatalities have overtaken impaired driving fatalities — they impact Canadian drivers to the tune of an estimated 20 percent of all fatal collisions. Despite the known risks and frequent media attention on the issue, a 2020 CAA poll reported that 47 percent of Canadians have typed a message or used the voice memo feature behind the wheel.
Impairment can fall under one of three major headings: alcohol impairment, drug impairment and fatigue impairment. All three can significantly affect your ability to react quickly, to drive defensively and to avoid collisions.
The most recent data available from Transport Canada’s National Collision Database demonstrates that one in five fatal collisions involved alcohol as a contributing factor. Research from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation points to 42.4 percent of fatally injured drivers testing positive for drugs, the majority of which were cannabis and central nervous system depressants. Furthermore, the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators estimates that driver fatigue is a factor in approximately 20 percent of fatal collisions.
Generally, Canadians are getting the message — seat belt use over recent years has hovered around the 95 percent mark. However, according to the ITFRSD, more than 30 percent of vehicle occupants who were killed in 2018 were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the crash.
The common factor
The common factor in all these behaviours is simple: they are all choices that drivers make. And yet, the data demonstrates that they all have direct correlations with death and injury, and they are all widely accepted to be dangerous, yet the prevalence of these issues is widespread.
“In the context of vehicle safety, there are four types of risks that we see result in injury and fatality far too often,” said Gareth Jones, President and CEO of the Canada Safety Council. “Speed, distraction, impairment and lack of seatbelt use continue as prevalent issues on Canadian roadways, and moving the needle on road safety means helping people make better discretionary behavioral choices.”