With millions of Canadians on the road every day, road safety is of utmost importance. Last month, Alberta celebrated Speed Awareness Month, a campaign started by the Alberta RCMP to remind drivers of the dangers of speeding. Road safety gets another spotlight this week across Canada for National Road Safety Week, which spans from May 17 – 23, 2022.
These campaigns aim to increase public awareness of the importance of making safe driving measures to reduce injuries on the road. For 2022, the campaign theme is “Safer You. Safer Me.” This theme reflects that drivers’ decisions on the road can impact pedestrians, passengers, cyclists, and other drivers. National Road Safety Week is a part of Canada’s Road Safety Strategy 2025, which seeks to enhance the safety of Canada’s roads so that we rank top in the world.
In this article, we dive into the most common dangers on the road and what you as a driver can be doing to stay safe for yourself, your loved ones, and others on the road.
Speeding is the Most Common Cause for Motor Vehicle Accidents in Canada
It’s important to remember that, even if you are an experienced driver, it is still imperative to follow the road rules and maintain a safe speed. Statistics from the International Transport Forum Road Safety Data found that speed is a factor in about 23 percent of fatal accidents in Canada. In rural areas, more than half of the collisions with catastrophic consequences occurred due to high speeds.
Many of the drivers in accidents that involve speeding tend to be between the age of 16 and 24 years old. However, studies by Transport Canada have shown that the majority of Canadians (70 percent) admit to speeding at times, and a slightly more significant portion (81 percent) admit to speeding on highways.
Four Driving Habits Identified as Leading Causes of Injury and Fatality
Speed is not the only risk factor Canadians should be aware of when considering road safety. The President and CEO of the Canada Safety Council, Gareth Jones, has identified four risks that tend to lead to injury or fatality on Canadian roadways:
- Distracted driving
- Lack of seatbelt
Distracted driving involves any activity that has a driver taking their eyes off of the road. This can include using a mobile device, reading, writing, grooming, and any other activity set out in the regulations of the Traffic Safety Act. Although the number of distracted driving convictions has decreased in Alberta over the pandemic, this trend may not necessarily be tied to an increase in responsible driving habits. Instead, it may be the result of drivers spending significantly less time on the roads over the past two years.
Impaired driving includes impairment from alcohol, drug use, or simply fatigue. Data from Transport Canada’s National Collision Database shows that one-fifth of fatal collisions involve alcohol as a contributing factor. For fatally injured drivers, roughly 42.4 percent tested positive for drugs. Many drivers may be surprised to learn that fatigue is considered a form of “impaired driving”; however, it contributes to approximately 20 percent of fatal collisions.
Lack of Seatbelt Use
The Canada Safety Council reported that as of 2021, approximately 95 percent of Canadian drivers are buckling up. However, the Council pointed out that statistics show that in 2018, more than 30 percent of vehicle occupants killed in accidents were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash.
Proactive Measure You Can Take to Stay Safe
The common thread in all unsafe driving behaviours is one thing: driver choice. Every day, drivers make choices that have the potential to bring danger to themselves and others on the road. But there are lots of things drivers can be doing to enhance safety.
Check for Defects & Recalls
Try to ensure that your vehicle is always in top running condition by getting regular services and checking for defects and recalls. For newer vehicles subject to a recall, the manufacturer should contact you directly. For older vehicles, companies will try to find vehicle owners through the provincial motor vehicle registration records. If your vehicle is subject to a recall, it’s essential to get it repaired right away. But don’t worry; the manufacturer will typically cover the cost of those repairs, so they won’t necessarily be an added expense.
Ensure Proper Use of Child Car Seats & Boosters
If you have children in the car, ensure they have the correct child car seat. When properly used, child car seats and boosters minimize the risk of death or injury of children in a collision. If you have a child car seat, ensure you check for recalls to keep your child safe. Please note that each province has different guidelines for children’s age, height, and weight when choosing your child’s car seat.
Employ Safe Driving Practices
It is important to remember the basics of safe driving. Keep your eyes on the road, hands on the wheel, and seatbelt fastened. A seatbelt decreases the risk of being killed or seriously injured in an accident by 50 percent. Pay attention to and heed road signs and speed limits. If you’ve taken substances that could cause you to be impaired, opt for a taxi or rideshare instead of driving yourself. Equally, if you’ve only had a few hours of sleep, it may be better to get in a few more “Z”s instead of getting behind the wheel.
Of course, there is only so much you can do to ensure your own safety. Road safety is every driver’s responsibility, as emphasized by this year’s campaign slogan, “Safer You. Safer Me.” If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, be sure to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help you claim compensation for the losses suffered by you and your loved ones.
Contact Cuming & Gillespie LLP in Calgary for Skilled Advice on Serious Motor Vehicle Accident Injuries
At Cuming & Gillespie LLP, we represent those who have been injured or have lost loved ones in motor vehicle accidents. Our knowledgeable personal injury lawyers have over 20 years of experience and are passionate about helping clients recover the compensation needed to help rebuild their lives and provide the best quality of life possible.
Cuming & Gillespie LLP is conveniently located in the heart of downtown Calgary and proudly serves clients in Calgary, Edmonton, and throughout Alberta. To schedule a consultation, contact us online or call 403-571-0555 (toll-free at 1-800-682-2480).