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OPP: 2020 saw less collision, but more traffic fatalities

Photo by Lucas Mulder.

Although the year saw a significant reduction in traffic on roads patrolled by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), collisions in 2020 resulted in a higher fatality rate than those collisions that took place in 2019.

According to the OPP 2020 collision and fatality data, released on Monday, Mar. 16, 2021, despite there being 26 per cent fewer collisions in 2020 than in 2019, the fatality rate was 22 per cent higher. The general overall comparative data divulged by the OPP is as follows:

2019

  • Fatal road collisions: 304
  • Fatalities: 335
  • Total number of collisions: 75,128

2020

  • Fatal road collisions: 285
  • Fatalities: 305
  • Total number of collisions: 55,581

The OPP broke this data down further to explain the different circumstances surrounding collisions, incidents, and fatalities.

Careless and dangerous driving

“A significant number of fatalities were preventable,” the OPP said, noting that many of these were attributed to careless and/or dangerous driving. Of all fatalities in 2020, 62 were linked to speed, 51 involved alcohol and/or drug use, and 45 involved driver inattention. A lack of seatbelt use contributed to 55 driver and/or passenger deaths, police said.

Transports and collisions

Transport trucks or other commercial vehicles were in 6,145 collisions in 2020. That equals 11 per cent of all the collisions that took place last year.

Motorcycle deaths

In 2020, 42 motorcyclists were killed in traffic incidents, an increase of 56 per cent over the 27 motorcycle-related deaths in 2019. The OPP said failing to yield right-or-way and excessive speed were the leading factors in the motorcycle fatalities in 2020.

“In 37 of the incidents, no other vehicles were involved, underscoring the fact that motorcyclists are vulnerable road users who cannot afford to take any unnecessary risks,” the OPP said.

Fatalities on the water

The OPP said that marine fatalities reached a 12-year high in 2020, and were almost double those in 2019, with 32 people killed in boating incidents. Of those, the leading causes were capsized vessels, which accounted for 17 deaths, and falling overboard, which was involved in 12 deaths. Paddlers accounted for half of those who died.

“As is the case every year, the majority of the deceased were found not wearing a life jacket – a simple measure that could have significantly reduced the number of deaths,” the OPP said, noting that 29 deceased persons were found without life jackets.

Off road deaths

The 23 off-road fatalities in 2020 marked the highest number of such deaths in 14 years, the OPP said. Eight of those who died were not wearing a helmet, with a further four riders found to be wearing a helmet, but with the chinstrap unfastened. Additionally, alcohol and/or drugs were a factor in approximately one third of these deaths.

Snowmobiling fatalities

So far in the 2020-2021 winter season, the OPP have responded to 15 snowmobile fatalities, which is already more than the 13 snowmobile-related deaths in the 2019-2020 season. Driving too fast for conditions was a factor in half of those fatalities.

“The OPP is reminding snowmobilers to avoid riding on frozen waterways, especially this late in the season,” the OPP said, noting that, to date, three people have died after their snowmobiles broke through the ice or were driven into open water.


“The OPP is reminding Ontarians that safe, defensive driving and full compliance with traffic laws while operating any type of motor vehicle or marine vessel is the only way to significantly reduce the number of preventable deaths,” the OPP said.

“The OPP remains committed to saving lives on roads, waterways and trails through targeted enforcement and education on traffic laws that are designed to keep people safe.”

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