Police Report 'Dramatic' Increase in Fatal Crashes

The numbers regarding fatal road, boat and snowmobiling collisions are in and they are troubling.

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) has released their 2017 traffic data—data that shows marked increases in almost all fatality categories.

According to the OPP, a total of 343 people died on OPP-patrolled roads last year (think the QEW, 400-series highways and roads in smaller Ontario towns), marking a five-year high.

By comparison, there were 307 deaths in 2016.

The OPP says it responded to 68,794 collisions last year, 304 of which were fatal. By comparison, there were 67,450 crashes in 2016 with 275 of the incidents resulting in fatalities.

What's causing these crashes?

Police say that 83 collisions were caused by inattentiveness, 75 were speed-related, 49 were seatbelt-related and 46 were alcohol and/or drug related.

In 2016, 64 were attention-related, 54 were speed-related, 45 were seatbelt-related and 47 were drug and/or alcohol-related (one more than in 2017).

There were almost 20 more distracted/attention-related driving deaths in 2017 vs. 2016.

Police say fatal motorcycles collisions are also on the rise.

The OPP say 48 motorcyclists died last year, marking the highest number of motorcycle deaths in 10 years. Also marking a 10-year high are the 27 motorcyclists who were driving properly (not at fault) at the time of the collision.

There were 36 motorcycle deaths in 2016.

Transport truck crashes also appear to be increasing.

Police say 91 people died in 76 collisions that involved a commercial transport truck, marking another 10-year high.

By comparison, 77 people died in 66 fatal transport truck collisions in 2016.

Transport truck drivers accounted for 15 of last year’s 91 fatalities, while 76 of the victims were in other vehicles involved (69 vehicles total), four were pedestrians and three were passengers in the transport truck.

The OPP says that fewer pedestrians were killed on OPP-patrolled roads last year with 27 deaths, compared to 39 deaths in 2016.

As far as a popular winter activity goes, the OPP says snowmobile fatalities reached an all-time record high in 2017, with 29 deaths. Excessive speed, loss of control and driver inattention led the list of primary causes.

Police say there were 16 snowmobile deaths in 2016.

As far as boating goes, marine fatalities reached an eight-year high with 31 people dying last year, compared to 23 deaths in 2016. With falling overboard being the lead contributing factor both years, police say the outcome could have been different for the 42 victims who were found not (or not properly) wearing a personal floatation device over the two-year period.

Police say a total of 22 people died in off-road vehicle incidents last year which is the same number of deaths as in 2016. Approximately half of those who died over the two-year period were found not wearing a helmet.

“The OPP is saddened and disappointed to see 2017 mark one of the worst years in recent history for fatalities on and off the road," says OPP Commissioner J.V.N.(Vince) Hawkes.

"As is the case every year, the majority of these deaths were preventable and attributed to poor driving behaviours. Until all drivers respect and observe road, off-road and marine laws that are designed to keep us all safe, these tragic deaths will continue.”

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