Every day we hear about car accidents. Multi-vehicle pileups, serious accidents, fatalities, road closures due to serious collisions etc. And yet a recently published report from Transport Canada says that we’ve had the lowest death toll on our roads in almost 60 years. The statistics are only as recent as 2008, which tell us that 2,419 people died in car accidents across Canada vs. 2,761 in 2007. Brian Patterson, president of the Ontario Safety League said many factors account for this decline in fatalities: enforcement, engineering, public awareness and education. The age group with the highest death rate on the roads are those 65 and older, followed by those between ages 25 to 34. Of course, it will be interesting to see what the data from 2009 and 2010 have to say, with all the serious accidents that happened in the first few months of 2010 and the record number of pedestrian fatalities. Ontario was found to have the lowest fatality rate out of all the provinces and territories. The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) noted the decline in fatalities but voiced its concerns to keep the momentum going. Hmm…What could the number one concern be? DISTRACTED DRIVING! Distracted driving still remains as a problem in Ontario, and across Canada and, well, let’s face it, anywhere there are cell-phone and blackberry users paired with a car. Texting while driving still is a high ranking safety concern. Impaired driving (drugs and alcohol) also remains as an issue of concern. What is it going to take to make people, especially today’s youth realize that it is not okay to text and drive? What will it take to make people realize it is not okay to drink and drive or get high and drive? These are issues that affect ALL road users. According to CAA, driver distraction is one of the most common contributors to traffic accidents. It is not just an issue of talking and driving and texting and driving: Distracted driving includes:
- managing children
- personal grooming
- changing the radio station in the car
- eating and drinking
Distractions, of course, cause drivers to react more slowly to traffic events and to react slower to potential hazards. Distracted drivers tend to not recognize hazards such as pedestrians, cyclists or obstacles on the road.