Summer most dangerous time on the roads – Like ant colonies marching forth from little satellite hills, vacation bound Quebecers exit city centers and suburban areas to head out North, South, East or West to country homes, campgrounds or on day trip adventures – and with it comes the highest statistics for accidents and fatal deaths on the roads of the whole year. According to the Sûreté du Québec, even though the number of dangerous crashes have seen somewhat of a decline in recent years, a steady increase in the deaths from these accidents have been on the rise.
This summer could prove to be a deadly one for drivers, if heed is not taken towards better and safer driving practices. According to a June 22nd press release by the CAA-Quebec Foundation, every year an average of 100 people die on Quebec roads during the 75 days between the Saint-Jean-Baptiste holiday and Labour Day. In 2017 it did not get better, but actually got worse in some ways according to data from the SAAQ (Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec):
– 92 people died in 88 collisions, representing 26% of all the 359 deaths of 2017.
– There was a 4% increase in the number of fatal collisions, compared with the average of 85 deaths in the five years prior.
– An average 27% of fatal crashes occurred during a period that represented 20% of the year. According to Marco Harrison, Director of the CAA-Quebec Foundation, beside speed and fatigue at the wheel – when we look more closely at the causes of accidents during this period, distracted driving clearly stands out. “A cellphone, infotainment system, food or even a passenger… it doesn’t matter. Distraction doesn’t discriminate, and the risk of an accident is real,” he said.
And unfortunately it is young drivers who form a disproportionately large percentage in road safety statistics. Alcohol is an issue, but distracted driving followed by speed and fatigue are also leading causes of accidents in the summer.
Here are some facts that were listed:
– At 100 km/h, our field of vision is reduced by 50%.
– An impact at 50 km/h is equivalent to a fall from four storeys. At 100 km/h, it’s equivalent to a fall from 14 storeys.
– Over a distance of 20 km, driving at 110 km/h instead of 90 km/h saves barely two minutes.
– You can’t shake off fatigue; your body decides. Cracking open the window or drinking an energy drink doesn’t help much. The only thing that works is taking a break.
– A 15 to 30 minute stop can make all the difference. In some cases, you just have to give up on the idea of driving.
– One in five fatal accidents occurs at night.
– Going 24 hours without sleep is equivalent to having a blood alcohol level of 0.10.
In the Sûreté du Québec’s annual report for 2017 released last January, driver distraction, including cell phone use, was involved in close to 10% of fatal collisions – surpassing the 9% mark of driving while impaired.
“We’re realizing that distracted driving is about a lot more than just using a phone,” SQ spokesperson Lt. Jason Allard had said in a CTV report. “People are reading books, they’re playing on their GPS’s, they’re playing with their dash, sometimes not knowing how their car actually works, trying to find the cruise control. There’s all kinds of things that can distract you when you’re driving a vehicle.”
Distracted driving, especially cell phone use, has become the number two reason for fatal collisions in the province – with speeding being number one. It is not only a major concern with young drivers, it also a big problem with adults. Addiction to the devices is causing people to put aside all logic and rationale, disregarding its clear and potentially fatal danger.
With the new changes to the Highway Safety Code coming into effect on June 30th, the fines for using a cell phone while driving will be far more significant: the minimum fine will now be $300 instead of $80, and the maximum will be $600 instead of $100, with five demerit points and an immediate license suspension for up to 30 days, depending on whether it is a repeat offence within a two year period.
But the question remains, will it be enough for logic to prevail – or will it take one too many tragic deaths for drivers who break the law to come to their senses?