Road safety is key to building safe and strong communities that will contribute to a higher quality of life for all Ontarians.
The Ontario Road Safety Annual Report (ORSAR) provides a comprehensive overview of the province’s road safety performance and allows the province to track long-term trends in collision rates, fatalities and injuries among motor vehicle drivers, passengers and pedestrians. Ontario, along with all other provinces and territories, has endorsed Road Safety Vision 2010, a national initiative adopted by the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators that aims to make Canada’s roads the safest in the world. The Vision 2010 plan sets a national target of a 30 per cent reduction in the average number of road users killed or seriously injured between 2008 and 2010 compared to the 1996 to 2001 period.
In 2002, Ontario had the safest roads in Canada. The following summary incorporates highlights from ORSAR 2002 to demonstrate ways the government is continuing to work towards:
- annually improving Ontario’s road safety record and remaining in the top three jurisdictions in North America; and,
- contributing towards meeting the national goals set out in the Road Safety Vision 2010 plan.
In order to achieve the overall target reduction, the Vision 2010 plan focuses on the areas where the largest numbers of serious casualties occur. These areas are also priorities for Ontario, and include:
- use of seat belts;
- drinking and driving;
- high-risk drivers;
- high-speed and intersection-related crashes;
- young drivers;
- commercial vehicles;
- vulnerable road users (pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists); and,
- rural road users
Seat belt use:
In a 2001 Transport Canada Survey, Ontario led the country with a 92.5 per cent seat belt usage rate. The Ontario government is committed to ongoing public education programs and targeted enforcement activities such as the spring and fall seat belt campaigns to remind drivers and passengers to buckle up, including the “Love Me — Buckle Me Right Day,” which focused on the proper use of childrens’ car seats. The Vision 2010 goal is a 95 per cent seat belt usage rate and the promotion of proper use of child car seats.
Drinking and driving:
As indicated in ORSAR 2002, during the period from 1980-2002, the number of drinking-driver fatalities declined by 61 per cent in Ontario. This can be attributed to the province’s stringent drinking and driving legislation that includes: an administrative driver’s licence suspension, increased sanctions for repeat drinking drivers, mandatory assessment, education, treatment and follow-up, vehicle impoundment and ignition interlock legislation. Vision 2010 calls for a 40 per cent decrease in the number of road users fatally or seriously injured in crashes involving drinking drivers.
High-risk drivers and high-speed and intersection related crashes:
Ontario is working to meet this goal through ongoing public education programs that target aggressive and dangerous drivers. As outlined in ORSAR 2002, the government supported several Ontario municipalities with Red Light Camera enforcement pilot projects and is developing new initiatives to address emerging issues, such as driver distraction and fatigue and proper use of highway lanes. The Vision 2010 goal is for a 20 per cent decrease in both these areas.
In Ontario, both the number and injury rate of 16- to 19-year-old driver casualties (deaths and injuries) have declined, with a 30 per cent decrease in the number killed/injured and a 38 per cent decline in the injury rate since 1990. The province introduced a graduated licensing system for novice drivers in 1994, and continues to develop a safe driving culture for young drivers through advocacy, enforcement and education. The Vision 2010 goal is a 20 per cent decrease in the number of young drivers/riders (16 to 19 years old) killed or seriously injured in collisions.
As indicated in ORSAR 2002, the number of large trucks on Ontario’s roads increased by 37 per cent between 1990 and 2002, while fatalities in large truck collisions have decreased by 13 per cent since 1990. Ontario has implemented a number of programs including RoadCheck (an annual international roadside safety blitz); Operation Air Brake (a roadside airbrake inspection blitz); and an improved air brake safety program. The government continues to work on enhancing commercial vehicle safety, including ongoing emphasis on roadside inspections for commercial vehicles. Vision 2010 calls for a 20 per cent decrease in the number of road users killed or seriously injured in crashes involving commercial vehicles.
Vulnerable road users:
The ministry works with over 130 community groups province-wide to promote road user safety and partnerships. This includes participating on pedestrian and bicycling safety committees and campaigns. Vision 2010 calls for a 30 per cent decrease in fatally and seriously injured pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists.
Rural road users:
Based on a rural seat belt survey conducted by Transport Canada in 2002, about 85 per cent of rural travellers in Ontario sitting in the front seat use a seat belt. MTO is committed to public education programs and targets its ongoing campaigns to continue improving seat belt compliance throughout the province — to raise the overall compliance rate to 100 per cent. The Vision 2010 goal is for a 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.).
In recent years, Ontario introduced many road safety programs related to drinking and driving, novice drivers and commercial vehicle safety that have helped to achieve great progress in various road safety categories, and has made Ontario one of the leaders in road safety in North America. Ontario’s approach will be delivered in partnership with a broad network of stakeholders, police services and safety groups, and supported by stringent laws. Ontario’s roads were among the safest in North America in 2002, and the government is committed to continuing to improve on road safety through legislation, enforcement, infrastructure investment, advocacy and education.