The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) has firmed up its 2016 traffic data, which revealed increases in many fatality categories, including the most tragic snowmobile season in 14 years. The OPP is sharing the data publicly to raise awareness of the impact ongoing behaviours have on the number of deaths on Ontario roads, waterways and trails. This data covers only those areas of the province covered by the OPP.
A total of 307 people were killed in motor vehicle collisions in 2016, marking a four-year high.
In 2015, the number killed was 301; in 2014 it was 290; and in 2013, 293. Every year, without exception, the majority of the fatalities are attributed to the “Big Four” main causal factors in road deaths. Three are linked to driver behaviour (aggressive, inattentive and impaired driving). The fourth (lack of seat belt use) applies to drivers and passengers.
These behaviours were responsible for 165 (more than half) of last year’s 307 deaths with little change over the previous year. In 2016, 55 people were killed in speed-related collisions; 65 died in accidents which were caused by inattentive drivers; and 45 deaths were alcohol or drug-related.
The OPP investigated 67,372 motor vehicle collisions in 2016, down from 2015 (69,934 collisions). Marking another four-year high are the 275 collisions that resulted in fatalities. Of last year’s crashes, 11,506 of them resulted in injuries. The majority (55,591) were property damage collisions with no injuries sustained, but these collisions came with a significant economic cost to Ontarians.
Last year saw little change in collisions involving large commercial transport trucks. The data is another stark reminder of the significantly greater threat these collisions pose when compared to those involving regular-sized vehicles. Collisions involving transport trucks resulted in more than three times the number of fatalities than those involving regular-sized vehicles – a statistic that holds steady from year to year. As was the case in 2015, the majority of those who died in last year’s transport truck collisions were occupants of other involved vehicles. Many of these fatalities are attributed to the Big Four. In the 5,357 collisions Involving large commercial transport trucks, 67 individuals were killed. Of those, 11 were truck drivers.
While last year marked fewer collisions involving motorcycles than in the previous year, there was little change in the number of deaths. The OPP responded to 749 motorcycle crashes in 2016 which resulted in 33 fatalities. Speeding and losing control continue to be common contributing factors. Of these, 28 were driving the motorbikes, and three others were passengers.
Sadly, 2016 marked the highest number of pedestrian deaths in more than 12 years, with 39 deaths. There were 25 such deaths in 2015. The year 2009 was the last time the number exceeded 30.
2016 marked the highest number of marine deaths in three years, with 23 people dying in 19 incidents on OPP-patrolled waterways. Seven of last year’s fatal incidents involved non-motorized vessels (e.g. canoes, kayaks). Falling overboard was the primary cause in nine of the incidents. Capsized or swamped vessels were involved in seven of them and alcohol in eight of the incidents. Every year, the majority of the victims are found not wearing a Personal Floatation Device (PFD). Last year, 19 of the 23 victims found with no PFD and in 2015, all of the deceased were found without one.
It was a particularly tragic year for off-road vehicle (ORV) enthusiasts, with 22 deaths marking a ten-year high in 2016. More than half (13) of the incidents were alcohol-drug-related and nine of the victims were riding without a helmet. These two behaviours were a common theme in 2015 as well as in previous years. With the data just in for the entire 2016/2017 season, the OPP is reporting 26 snowmobile deaths, which is the highest number of lives lost since the 2003/2004 season. There were 12 deaths in February alone. Speeding, driver inattention and losing control were primary causes in half of these deaths. Notably, 17 of the 26 victims were between 45 and 64 years old.
OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair, Provincial Commander, Traffic Safety and Operational Support, commented on these grim statistics: “Our traffic data is compelling evidence that poor, careless behaviour is at the core of the majority of the fatal collisions and incidents we investigate on roads, waterways and trails. Despite the hard facts, some people fail to grasp the magnitude of their role in preventing these senseless deaths. The OPP remains committed to changing these costly behaviours through robust enforcement and education campaigns. The rest is up to Ontarians.”