In 2016, 307 people were killed in car accidents on Ontario’s highways, including 61 in the province’s Eastern region. In 2017, 341 were killed – an eleven per cent increase – including 79 in the east. During the first 15 days of 2018, a further 26 people died on Ontario’s highways, seven more than last year, or a 271 per cent increase. The trend is clear: Ontario’s highways are becoming more dangerous, a fact that should worry all Ontarians, including personal injury lawyers.
Law enforcement and safety experts can’t fully explain the increase, though messy winter weather has likely contributed to this January’s fatality surge. Still, OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt reminded the CBC last month that “poor road conditions and poor weather conditions don’t cause crashes … it’s poor driving that causes crashes.”
Ontario Provincial Police have called for drivers to slow down during bad weather and are continuing public awareness campaigns around distracted, impaired, and dangerous driving. Other stakeholders are calling for more substantial changes.
“I think that the fines should be more. I think that you should lose your licence. I think that we have to be starting to be held responsible for what’s going on,” Mayor Erika Demchuk of Gananoque told Global News.
The Town of Gananoque has asked the province to implement various safety improvements, including electronic speed limit signs that can be changed based on weather. However, changes like these happen slowly, as personal injury lawyers are well aware.
“Looking at it now means that maybe by 2025 or 2026, they’ll actually be able to start doing something about it,” Demchuk said.
In Northern Ontario, retired traffic inspector and current traffic safety consultant Mark Andrews also expressed frustration at the slow rate of change when he spoke with CBC Sudbury.
“I hear the same issues being raised again and again of the cause [of collisions] … and ideas being raised that were raised 10 years ago,” he said. “The roads haven’t been developed, the cars haven’t been developed and the users haven’t kept up with what we now have for a vehicle to drive in.”
Long-term safety solutions, Andrews said, will require significant cooperation between all levels of government, vehicle manufacturers, and business stakeholders like the trucking industry. In the meantime, he suggested that improved winter maintenance and small infrastructure upgrades could prevent some traffic fatalities.
If you or a member of your family has been injured in a car accident on Ontario’s highways, contact the personal injury lawyers at Will Davidson LLP to discuss how we can help.
Photo credit: Floydian/Wikimedia Commons