Slow Down and Save Lives
While commuter traffic as a whole is reduced worldwide as a result of COVID-19 mitigation efforts, roadways in Canada continue to be an important part of day-to-day life for a wide variety of people including essential workers getting to and from work, delivery services and emergency responders and vulnerable road users including pedestrians and cyclists.
This year’s National Road Safety Week is May 12-18 and the Canada Safety Council wants to remind you that driving requires an absolute focus on safety behind the wheel.
“Driving a vehicle and taking safety precautions go hand in hand,” said Gareth Jones, President and CEO of the Canada Safety Council. “A safe driver should be able to avoid a collision in most scenarios, and that begins with a safety-first perspective and a vigilance on road safety that comes with the privilege of driving.”
According to the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, speed is a factor in 800 fatalities and 3,000 serious injuries every year in Canada. At higher speeds, drivers have less time to react to unexpected circumstances and require more distance to come to a full stop.
Evidence across Canada continues to demonstrate a higher incidence of drivers being apprehended for speeding since self-isolation practices went into effect. Saanich Police impounded 16 vehicles in March, compared to only two in February. Toronto Police indicates a 200 per cent increase in stunt driving in March 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019. Edmonton Police report “significant increases in speeding incidents.” Fewer vehicles on the roads does not mean that it is either acceptable or safe to increase your speed — follow the posted limits.
Distracted driving continues to be a major cause of collisions in Canada — according to Transport Canada, distracted driving was a factor in 21 per cent of all fatal collisions and 27 per cent of collisions resulting in serious injury in 2016.
There is reason for concern when observing opinion-based surveys, too. According to the Traffic Injury Research Foundation’s 2018 Road Safety Monitor survey, more than 75 per cent of respondents reported concern over distracted drivers. And yet, 36 per cent of these same respondents indicated that they often talked on their hands-free phone behind the wheel, with an additional 9.3 per cent indicating they often talked on their handheld phone and 7.5 per cent reporting they send text messages while behind the wheel. So while we recognize the danger, many continue to contribute to the problem.
Distraction is defined as anything that takes a driver’s focus off the road. Though the focus tends to be on the use of devices, distraction can also include grooming, adjusting radio or ventilation settings and eating. For more information on distracted driving and its impacts, please see our 2019 National Safe Driving Week campaign.
– 30 –