Sunday, February 15, 2015

Overwhelming Majority of Road Deaths were Preventable

Dufferin County, ON (OPP - Dufferin Detachment) The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is releasing a comprehensive report on the hundreds of fatal motor vehicle collisions it has investigated throughout the province over the past ten years.

Traffic safety is one of the OPP's core functions and information is one of the OPP's most valuable tools. The organization analyzes its fatal collision data every year to help it deploy its resources as effectively as possible, with the aim of reducing the number of deaths on Ontario roads. This is an important goal of the OPP's Provincial Traffic Safety Program.

The OPP maintains a sophisticated statistics database which captures a wide range of data associated with the fatal motor vehicle collisions it investigates. Through the analysis of this data, the OPP can establish where it needs to focus its provincial enforcement and public education efforts from one year to the next.

The majority of fatal collisions on OPP patrolled roads and highways are a result of poor driving behaviour or driver error. When officers investigate fatal collisions in which these factors were found to be present, they record the fatalities and collisions in the categories of "driver action", "driver condition", and "use of safety equipment". Four causal factors in collision deaths that are associated with these categories are consistently identified and for that reason, they are known as the "Big Four": "alcohol/drug-related", "inattentive-related", "speed-related", and "no seat belt/helmet".

When looking at last year's (2014) data, the OPP investigated 265 fatal road crashes which resulted in the deaths of 287 people. Below is a breakdown of how the fatalities fit into the Big Four categories:
46 deaths were alcohol/drug-related
73 deaths were inattentive-related
61 deaths were speed-related
50 deaths involved no seat belt/helmet

During the previous year (2013), the OPP investigated 251 fatal road crashes which resulted in the deaths of 290 people.
73 deaths were alcohol/drug-related
88 deaths were inattentive-related
47 deaths were speed-related
71 deaths involved no seat belt/helmet

The OPP is pleased to see three of the four major causal factors down in 2014; however the one consistency they see every year, without exception is that the overwhelming majority of fatal road crashes investigated by the OPP fall into these four categories and are preventable.

"As we have said before, regardless of how hard the OPP works to reduce the number of lives lost in road collisions, we cannot do this alone. Ontarians need to understand what we learn from this data, which is that the vast majority of the people who have died on our roads did not have to die," said Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair, Provincial Commander of Traffic Safety and Operational Support.

"Beginning this year, we are going to publicly share our detailed collision and fatality data because if Ontarians see the extent to which their driving behaviour contributes to road deaths, they will be more aware than ever that they have the strongest influence of all in putting an end to these deaths," added Blair.

What the numbers mean
On occasion, the OPP is asked why the Big Four category numbers do not equal the total number of road deaths. The Big Four are not mutually-exclusive of each other. A collision can be counted in more than one of the four categories. For example, if an OPP collision investigation reveals that a deceased driver was not wearing a seat belt, was impaired and texting at the time of his/her death, this fatality would be counted in the "attentive-related", "impaired-related" and "no seat belt" categories. There are other causal factors in collision fatalities that do not fit into the Big Four and make for a higher total value (e.g. animal-related collisions, driver under medical distress).

Overall, the OPP is pleased to see a relatively steady decline in the number of road collision deaths over the past ten years, including those that fall within the Big Four categories. While the OPP, Ontario road users and other road safety partners have much more work to do to make Ontario roads safe, the OPP is encouraged by this downward trend in road deaths and hopes to see it continue.

This is the first in a series of comprehensive traffic-related, data-supported News Releases the OPP will be disseminating in February and March, 2015.