Ontario's roads among North America’s safest in 2002
The Ontario Road Safety Annual Report offers the public a comprehensive overview of the province’s road safety performance. Ontario has been building a road safety database for more than 50 years to track long-term trends in areas such as collision rates, fatalities and injuries among drivers, passengers and pedestrians and incidents of drinking and driving.
In 2002, Ontario’s roads continued to be the safest in Canada and among the safest in North America.
Success through partnership
As one of Ontario’s lead road safety agencies, the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) works with a broad range of partners. At the provincial level, MTO works with the Ministry of the Attorney General, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services to deliver a number of important road safety programs and initiatives.
Ontario works to improve road safety in four main ways:
- legislation that sets clear rules for all road users, and spells out the consequences for failing to obey them;
- enforcement that aims to ensure all road users abide by the rules, and strives to correct those who do not;
- infrastructure investments so that provincial roads are designed, constructed and maintained to maximize the safety of all users; and,
- education programs that help familiarize people with the rules of the road and raise public awareness of safe driving behaviours.
During 2002, MTO worked with Transport Canada and other provincial/territorial agencies through the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA). The ministry also collaborated with the Ontario Provincial Police and local police forces, local governments and community groups, safety organizations, private companies and individuals in partnerships that promoted a modern, safe and efficient transportation system.
Road Safety Vision 2010
Ontario has endorsed a national initiative aimed at making Canada’s roads the safest in the world. In the fall of 2000, the CCMTA adopted the Road Safety Vision 2010, with the official endorsement of all provincial/territorial ministers of transportation and highway safety.
The Road Safety Vision 2010 plan sets a national target for road safety that calls for reduction by 30 per cent in the average number of road users killed or seriously injured during the 2008-2010 period compared to the 1996-2001 period.
In support of the overall target reduction, the Road Safety Vision 2010 plan calls for focused action and targeted reductions in areas where the largest numbers of serious casualties occur. These targeted areas include:
Seat Belt Use
- 95 per cent rate of seat belt use and proper use of appropriate child car seats.
- 40 per cent decrease in the number of fatally or seriously injured unbelted occupants.
Drinking and Driving
- 40 per cent decrease in the per cent of road users fatally or seriously injured in crashes involving drinking drivers.
- 20 per cent decrease in the number of road users killed or seriously injured in crashes involving high-risk drivers (drivers who commit three high-risk driving infractions within a two-year time frame, two infractions if alcohol-related).
Collisions involving high-speed and intersection-related crashes
- 20 per cent decrease in the number of road users killed or seriously injured in speed or intersection-related crashes.
- 20 per cent decrease in the number of young drivers/riders (16 to 19 years old) killed or seriously injured in crashes.
Commercial Vehicle Safety
- 20 per cent decrease in the number of road users killed or seriously injured in crashes involving commercial vehicles.
Vulnerable Road Users
- 30 per cent decrease in the number of pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists killed or seriously injured.
Rural Road Users
- 40 per cent decrease in the number of road users fatally or seriously injured on rural roadways (roads with speed limits of 80 to 90 km/hr.).
Ontario has been at the forefront of implementing road safety programs that address Vision 2010’s targeted road safety areas. The province introduced a graduated licensing system for novice drivers in 1994 and, since 1996, has been active in establishing a comprehensive set of programs to reduce drinking and driving. Ontario continues to focus efforts in areas of road safety that complement both the Road Safety Vision 2010 and address the needs of Ontario’s road users.
Record number of drivers and vehicles on Ontario roads in 2002
With Ontario's strong economy and growing population, the province established new records for both the total number of licensed drivers and the number of vehicles on the road. In 2002, the number of licensed drivers increased by 146,888 to about 8.4 million. The total number of registered motor vehicles in the province during the year was 7.4 million.
Over the past 20 years, road fatalities in Ontario have declined steadily. But the number of deaths on Ontario roads increased slightly in 2002, when there were 873 road fatalities across the province, compared to 845 in 2001.
One of the most common ways of assessing road safety is to calculate the number of fatalities that occur during a given period for every 10,000 licensed drivers. Another common measure is the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle/kilometres travelled. These measures are used widely in North America and around the world to compare road safety from one jurisdiction to another.
In 2002, the number of persons killed in motor vehicle crashes per 10,000 licensed drivers in Ontario increased slightly to 1.04, up from 1.02 in 2001. However, the collision rate per 100 million vehicle kilometres travelled declined slightly in 2002, falling to 197.5 from 201.8 in 2001. The number of fatalities in motor vehicle collisions per 100 million vehicle kilometres travelled decreased from 0.73 in 2001 to 0.71 in 2002.
Compared to 2001:
- The number of licensed drivers increased in 2002 from 8,266,616 to 8,413,504, up 1.78 per cent.
- The vehicle kilometres travelled increased in 2002 from 115,943,000 to 123,683,000, up 6.68 per cent.
- The number of registered motor vehicles increased in 2002, from 7,336,574 to 7,415,497, up 1.08 per cent.
The Traffic Injury Research Foundation’s review of the patterns in road crashes in Ontario, as seen in the accompanying graphs, reveals significant downward trends, representing positive progress. Looking at the long-term picture provides a more sTABLE and reliable assessment of progress because it eliminates year-to-year variations.
Number of fatalities and licensed drivers: 1980-2002. The number of licensed drivers increased by 68 per cent from 1980 to 2002; in contrast, the number of fatalities decreased by 42 per cent over this period.
Fatality rate (Number of fatalities per 10,000 licensed drivers): 1980-2002. The per-driver fatality rate decreased dramatically, by 66 per cent.
Number and Rate* of 16- to 19-Year-Old Drivers Killed and Injured: 1990-2002
Number and rate of 16- to 19-year-old drivers killed and injured: 1990-2002. Both the number and per capita rate of 16- to19-year-old driver casualties (deaths and injuries) have declined, with a 30 per cent decline in the number killed/injured and a 38 per cent decline in the injury rate since 1990.
*number of injuries and fatalties per 100,0000 population
Number of drivers aged 65 and over: 1980-2002. The number of licensed drivers aged 65 and over increased dramatically, by 164 per cent, over the past two decades. By contrast, the total number of licensed drivers increased by only 68 per cent. The percentage increase in the number of senior drivers is more than double the percentage increase in the total number of licensed drivers over this period.
Number and Rate* of Drivers Aged 65 and Over Killed and Injured: 1990-2002
Number and rate of drivers aged 65 and over killed and injured: 1990-2002. The number of drivers aged 65 and over killed and injured has increased since 1990; in contrast, the per-driver casualty rate has decreased over this period by 25 per cent, and there was a 22 per cent lower casualty rate in 2002 than in 1990. However, the rate of fatal collisions among drivers aged 65 and over continues to be higher than that of the general driving population.
*number of deaths and injuries per 10,000 licensed drivers
Number and Rate* of Drinking Driver Fatalities: 1980-2002
Number and rate of drinking driver fatalities: 1980-2002. Both the number of drinking driver fatalities and the number of drinking driver fatalities per 10,000 licensed drivers have declined dramatically from 1980 — by 61 per cent and 77 per cent, respectively.
*number of drinking-driver fatalities per 10,000 licensed drivers
Number of large trucks: 1990-2002. The number of large trucks has increased by 37 per cent in the past 12 years. By contrast, the total number of vehicles has increased by only 22 per cent. The percentage increase in the number of large trucks is more than the percentage increase in the total number of vehicles over the past decade.
Number and Rate* of Fatalities in Large Truck Crashes: 1990-2002
Number and rate of fatalities in large truck crashes: 1990-2002. although the number of large trucks increased by 37 per cent, fatalities in large truck crashes have actually decreased by 13 per cent since 1990. Consequently, the number of fatalities per 100,000 large trucks has declined over this period — a 36 per cent decline in the fatality rate.
*number of fatalities per 100,000 large trucks
Ontario’s Successful Road Safety Initiatives:
In the last decade, the Ministry of Transportation has worked to increase road safety by:
- introducing a graduated licensing system in 1994;
- implementing programs to crack down on drinking and driving including: an administrative driver’s licence suspension program in 1996; increased sanctions for repeat drinking drivers in 1998; mandatory assessment, education/treatment and follow-up for drinking drivers in 1998; vehicle impoundment for driving while under a criminal code suspension in 1999, and ignition interlock legislation in 2001;
- increasing fines for those who drive while their licence is suspended, with fines from $5,000 to $25,000 for the first conviction, and from $10,000 to $50,000 for subsequent convictions;
- supporting several Ontario municipalities with the implementation of Red Light Camera enforcement pilot projects;
- introducing a new senior driver program, which helped reduce the collision rate for drivers aged 80 and over by 42 per cent from the average rate under the previous senior driver program;
- doubling fines for illegally passing a school bus, maximum of $2,000 first offence and $4,000 for a subsequent offence (within 5 years);
- increasing the resources available for road safety enforcement by 47 per cent since 1995; and,
- implementing a Mandatory Vehicle Branding Program in 2003, to help protect used vehicle buyers and enhance road safety.
In the area of commercial vehicle safety, successful past initiatives include:
- increasing fines for truck safety violations to a maximum of $20,000, the highest in North America;
- implementing a Commercial Vehicle Impoundment Program that takes trucks with critical safety defects off the road;
- creating an absolute liability offence for wheel separations in 1997, which means no excuses are accepted in court (a measure that helped lead to a 70 per cent reduction in the number of wheel separations between 1997 and 2002);
- implementing a carrier safety rating system to provide public access to the safety performance records of commercial carriers, with more than 93,000 safety ratings assigned to date; and,
- introducing a mandatory air brake adjuster and wheel installer training and certification program (which has now trained more than 20,000 air brake adjusters and 12,500 wheel installers).
Report on 2002 Road Safety Initiatives
Drinking and driving
Ontario has some of North America’s most stringent drinking and driving legislation. One of the most significant road safety initiatives of 2002 was the introduction of a new weapon in the fight against impaired driving, Ontario’s Ignition Interlock Program.
As of December 23, 2001, drivers convicted of drinking and driving who become eligible to have their licences reinstated must have an ignition interlock device installed in any motor vehicle they operate for at least one year. The Ignition Interlock Program became fully operational on December 23, 2002, when the first offenders became eligible for licence reinstatement.
An ignition interlock is an in-car alcohol breath-screening device that prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. Before starting the vehicle, the driver must blow into the device. If the device detects alcohol, the vehicle will not start.
Over 500 ignition interlocks have been installed in vehicles. This figure applies to first-time offenders convicted when the interlock program came into effect in late 2001. These offenders had to complete their one-year licence suspensions and mandatory remedial measures programs before they could become eligible for conditional licence reinstatement.
Other measures to combat drinking and driving include:
- an immediate 90-day Administrative Driver’s Licence Suspension;
- increased licence suspension periods for repeat drinking and driving offenders;
- increased fines for driving while a licence is under suspension for a driving-related Criminal Code conviction;
- dedicated funding for the Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere (RIDE) program;
- a mandatory remedial measures (assessment, education/ treatment and follow-up) program for all drivers convicted of impaired driving;
- a longer period of time for identifying previous convictions under the Criminal Code of Canada; and,
- a program that impounds the vehicle of anyone who drives while under suspension for a Criminal Code conviction.
Despite these measures, there were approximately 15,937 convictions for drinking and driving reported in Ontario in 2002. Between 75 and 80 per cent of those convicted were first-time offenders. There were 193 drinking and driving fatalities in 2002. The government believes one impaired driver on our roads is one too many.
Road Safety Challenge 2002 targets aggressive, dangerous drivers
In 2002, 27 communities across the province participated in Ontario’s Road Safety Challenge from May 4-12. The Road Safety Challenge aims to save lives by educating the public about the dangers of impaired and aggressive driving and failure to use seat belts.
MTO staff worked closely on this initiative with local volunteers, police services, road safety organizations, volunteer groups and private sector companies throughout the province. The Ministry of Transportation provided $60,000 to assist with local road safety initiatives during the 2002 campaign.
Ontario continues to be among the leaders in Canada in seat belt safety
Ontario was the first province in Canada to make the use of seat belts mandatory, in 1976.
In a Transport Canada survey from 2001, Ontario led the way with a 92.5 per cent seat belt usage rate.
But with some 8.4 million drivers in the province, this still means that more than half a million drivers are not in the habit of buckling up. And about one-third of all drivers fatally injured in road crashes in Ontario are not wearing their seat belts. At recent child safety seat clinics in Ontario, organizers found that as many as 80 per cent of the seats inspected were installed or being used incorrectly.
Based on a fall 2002 survey by Transport Canada on seat belt usage in rural communities across Canada, 85 per cent of rural travellers sitting in the front seat of their vehicles used a seat belt. Quebec, at just over 91 per cent, had the highest seat belt usage rate in rural Canada, while Ontario was consistent with the national average of about 85 per cent.
MTO is committed to public education programs and targeted campaigns to promote proper seat belt and child car seat use, by working in co-operation with community groups, injury prevention advocates, public health professionals, police services and the private sector. The goal is to continue improving seat belt compliance throughout the province — with the ultimate goal of a compliance rate of 100 per cent.
Successful spring and fall seat belt campaigns
Ontario’s annual spring seat belt campaign took place from April 13-27, 2002, as education and enforcement activities across the province reminded drivers and passengers to fasten their seat belts.
The 2002 spring campaign began with “Love Me — Buckle Me right Day,” which enabled organizers to promote the proper use of children’s car seats. Parents and caregivers had the opportunity to visit a total of 50 free inspection clinics across Ontario to ensure that their child car seats were installed correctly. The clinics were sponsored by the Co-Operators General Insurance Company and Toys “R” Us. During the spring 2002 campaign, the Ontario Provincial Police checked 859,857 vehicles, and laid 14,987 charges for seat belt and child car seat violations.
The annual fall seat belt campaign took place from September 28 to October 12, with similar results.
Focusing on commercial vehicle safety
At least 80 per cent of the total value of Ontario’s trade with the United States moves by truck, and the crossborder trade by truck between our two countries virtually doubled during the 1990s. That increase — and the growing number of trucks on Ontario’s roads — has spurred the province and its safety partners to take aggressive action to promote commercial vehicle safety.
RoadCheck 2002, an international truck safety inspection blitz, was held June 4 to 6 at inspection sites across Ontario, during National Transportation Week. And as in past years, the annual, 72-hour safety blitz of commercial motor vehicles was carried out simultaneously by officials in Canada, the United States and Mexico.
Ontario’s truck safety laws are among the toughest in North America, and participation in RoadCheck allows MTO to gauge how well the trucking industry is complying with provincial laws. The 2002 event marked the 14th year MTO has been an active participant.
During the blitz, MTO enforcement officers at some 35 truck inspection stations examined more than 25,000 trucks and trailers, looking at:
- the mechanical condition of the vehicles;
- the stability of the load;
- the qualifications of the driver;
- the pre-trip inspection reports;
- the daily logs; and,
- the vehicle’s compliance with dangerous goods legislation.
RoadCheck’s results are measured by the out-of-service rate — which is the number of vehicles taken off the road for having mechanical defects, expressed as a percentage of the total number of vehicles inspected. Ontario has achieved a compliance rate of 77 per cent or greater for the last three consecutive years.
Air brake safety program improved
To make the province’s highways safer for all road users, the ministry improved its air brake program for commercial vehicle operators during 2002. The updated and enhanced program includes:
- a new standard 12-hour air brake course;
- a new edition of the Air Brake Handbook, based on the new course curriculum;
- revised knowledge testing requirements for licence upgrades and renewals;
- a revised MTO practical test; and,
- a revised air brake instructor’s course.
The new program focuses on upgrading commercial drivers’ knowledge and understanding of air brake systems. An air brake endorsement (called a Z endorsement) on a driver’s licence authorizes the holder to drive a vehicle equipped with air brakes.
Operation Air Brake 2002
Every year, Ontario conducts two 12-hour air brake inspection blitzes. The spring blitz — which was held in 2002 on May 5 — was not publicized in advance, while the fall inspection blitz — which took place on September 5 — was announced in the media before it took place.
The annual initiative has three main goals:
- enforcement of air brake requirements;
- driver/operator education; and,
- benchmarking, assessment and monitoring.
In the 2002 Operation Air Brake initiative, Ontario inspected more trucks than any other Canadian jurisdiction. Approximately 180 enforcement officers inspected trucks at 35 locations province-wide. Of the trucks subjected to a full mechanical inspection, 22.9 per cent were placed out-of-service, which was consistent with Ontario’s experience in the previous two years.
Boosting inter-regional transit
According to the Canadian Urban Transit Association, transit is the safest mode of urban travel. By distance travelled, the fatality rate for transit passengers in Canadian cities is five per cent of that for automobile passengers. Not only does transit promote safety, it also helps ease congestion, protects the environment and enhances Ontario’s economic vitality. Urban transit is also three times more energy efficient than car travel and will play a key role in reducing Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. During 2002, the province provided Ontario municipalities with $96.8 million to support the purchase of 175 conventional transit buses, 74 specialized transit buses and the major refurbishment of 223 transit buses.
In 2002, the province took back responsibility for GO Transit and, with the province’s support, GO Transit moved ahead during the year with a comprehensive expansion plan that involved building new stations, creating additional parking spaces at GO stops, and extending services on existing routes.
Infrastructure investments build a safer, more efficient road network
In 2002, Ontario’s investments in transportation infrastructure totalled more than $1.3 billion, including initiatives to improve both provincial highways and public transit. These investments were aimed at renewing and expanding Ontario’s transportation network — to meet the demands of a growing population.
The province’s infrastructure investments added more than 180 new lane kilometres to the provincial highway network during the year, which is roughly equivalent to the distance between Kingston and Ottawa. In addition, the province carried out significant improvements to more than 1,100 lane kilometres of highway — which is about the same as the total round-trip distance between Toronto and Montreal.
In 2002, the province continued to expand Highways 11, 69, and 401, and issued new construction contracts to extend Highway 417 to the community of Arnprior.
Planning efforts for future highway network continue
The government continued moving forward with a series of major transportation planning studies during 2002 — including an examination of potential transit opportunities on existing and proposed new 400-series highways.
In 2002, detailed planning continued for potential new transportation corridors in the Greater Toronto Area. Future planning initiatives included:
- extending Highway 427 to the north;
- extending Highway 407 to the east, to link up with Highways 35 and 115;
- extending Highway 404 to the north, and building a Bradford Bypass; and,
- long-range study and corridor protection for a future east-west corridor through the GTA, north of Highway 407.
Anti-gridlock measures improve highway safety
In 2002, the government awarded almost $260 million worth of highway construction work in the Golden Horseshoe region, and also provided $156 million to GTA municipalities for transit improvement and expansion projects.
The highlights of the GTA highway improvement program included:
- updating and expanding Highway 401;
- improving Highway 400;
- widening and extending Highway 404;
- widening Highway 427; and,
- improving the Queen Elizabeth Way.
Other significant improvements to central Ontario’s highway infrastructure that continued during 2002 included the refurbishment of the Garden City Skyway in St. Catharines, and the reconstruction of Highway 420.
ITS investments mean smarter highways
Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) are part of an expanding field which represents the marriage of hightech communications and information systems with transportation to improve safety and efficiency on the road. Ontario is a leader in this area, and the ministry is continuing to invest in ITS technologies that result in better service for road users.
In 2002, MTO continued to expand the COMPASS freeway traffic management system. COMPASS enables MTO to detect and respond to incidents on major provincial freeways in the greater Toronto and Ottawa areas, quickly improving both the safety and efficiency of these vital corridors for all users. To view images of current traffic conditions along Highway 401 and on the QEW, as well as receive traffic reports on provincial highways from MTO’s Traffic and Road Information System (TRIS), users can log on to MTO’s website: www.mto.gov.on.ca/ english/traveller/compass/index.shtml.
In 2002, $800,000 was invested in three cameras along Highway 401 between Hurontario and Highway 407, and $1.8 million on queue end warning systems on the Queen Elizabeth Way towards the Peace Bridge and on Highway 405 to detect and warn drivers of traffic queues resulting from truck delays at border crossings. In addition, two contracts were awarded for a number of new changeable message signs and for system expansion in Ottawa.
MTO also increased the number of advanced road weather information system (ARWIS) stations during the year. These stations help improve road safety by measuring local road and weather conditions and providing forecasting tools that help optimize MTO’s winter maintenance activities. In the next year, ARWIS is expected to increase across Ontario.
Ontario’s approach to road user safety, supported by stringent laws and delivered in partnership with a broad network of stakeholders, police services and safety groups, is raising public awareness of road issues and encouraging changes in driver behaviour and attitudes.
MTO continues to review its policies, regulations, legislation and public education activities to improve road safety. The ministry will look to other jurisdictions for their best practices and explore new technologies. It will work in partnership with the federal government and other provincial/territorial governments, with municipalities, the private sector, road safety community groups and enforcement organizations for the safety of all road users.
Recommendations for Promoting Further Improvements to Road Safety in Ontario
The province will continue to promote comprehensive safety programs and find new ways to improve safety on Ontario’s roads.
Future initiatives include the updating and revising of the Motor Vehicle Accident Report and Self-Reporting Collision Reporting forms. The revised forms will result in more accurate and thorough reporting of collision information, as well as improved data quality and consistency. Moving to electronic reporting of collision information and the timely release of collision data is expected to enhance safety research, enforcement and safety policy development. In addition, revised forms will allow for the capture of greater in-depth information on issues of emerging importance such as driver distraction, the use of cell phones, and characteristics of collisions involving sport utility vehicles.
Other longer-term road safety initiatives include:
- targeting high-risk drivers;
- complementing existing anti-drinking driving programs with new ones;
- conducting public education campaigns in partnership with police, public health, community groups and the private sector;
- developing initiatives to address public concerns about emerging issues, including driver distraction and fatigue, proper use of highway lanes and drugimpaired driving;
- increasing passenger protection provisions in legislation, regulation, and through public education;
- developing a safe driving “culture” through advocacy, legislation, enforcement and awareness;
- exploring the use of new technology in monitoring, reporting and enforcing road safety;
- enhancing commercial vehicle safety, including ongoing emphasis on roadside inspections for commercial vehicles;
- investigating ways to alleviate gridlock and improve traffic flow and the impact of congestion on air quality; and,
- continuing to be leaders in road infrastructure and vehicle technology.
In conclusion, the government will continue to work to ensure that Ontario has a safe, efficient and integrated transportation system, a key component to building safe and vital communities that will contribute to a higher quality of life for all Ontarians.