The last few years have seen significant fluctuations in the annual number of motor vehicle collisions in Ontario causing personal injuries or death.
- In 2014, there were 38,724 such accidents — 4,000 fewer than in 2013.
- 2015 saw fatal collisions and injury collisions jump to nearly 40,000.
- In 2016, the number fell again, to less than 36,000.
Unfortunately, we are still waiting for official figures from the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) for 2017, so we don’t know for sure yet whether it continued the upward trend of 2015 or the downward trend from 2016. What limited information we do have offers conflicting evidence.
On the one hand is Allstate Canada’s 2017 Safe Driving Study (SDS), released in late November, which suggests that Ontario’s streets are becoming more dangerous. The SDS reports that the frequency of collision claims in Ontario increased by almost 5% in the two-year period ending in June 2017 when compared with the two-year period ending June 2015. It attributes much of that increase to an 8.5% jump in metro Toronto.
On the other hand, Toronto Police Service (TPS) statistics suggest that our roads may be getting safer. As of mid-December 2017, Toronto had seen only 59 traffic fatalities for the year. In contrast, Toronto was home to 77 traffic fatalities in 2016.
We won’t know which of these sources, if either, accurately reflects what 2017 meant for Ontario drivers until MTO releases its own annual report. However, each does provide some insight for Ontario drivers, so let’s consider them in more detail.
Overview of SDS Findings
The SDS summarizes Allstate’s paid-out claims in four provinces: Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Ontario. For Alberta, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, the SDS reports that the rate of collision claims fell between the comparison period (2013-2015) and the current period (2015-2017). But the increase in Ontario more than offset the other provinces’ decreases, leading to an overall increase of 2.5%.
The SDS also reports statistics for 93 local communities. Of the 20 communities with the highest claims rates, 19 were in Ontario, including Toronto. In fact, of the four provinces analyzed, Ontario had the second-highest claims frequency.
Of course, some caveats should be kept in mind concerning the SDS data. First, it only concerns claims on Allstate policies on which the company paid out. If trends among Allstate’s drivers do not match overall provincial or national trends, then the information in the SDS is of little use in understanding how Ontarians generally fared in 2017.
Second, it covers the period from July 2015 to June 2017. From MTO’s data for 2015, we already know that accidents increased in 2015 — and that more of the 2015 accidents occurred in the second half of the year than in the first. As a result, it’s difficult to tell how much of the increase reported by the SDS results from the first six months of 2017 rather than the last six of 2015. We’ll have to wait for the MTO’s report to know for sure.
What TPS Statistics Tell Us About Ontario Accidents
The TPS statistics suggest a more optimistic possibility for 2017. The 77 traffic fatalities in Toronto during 2016 were abnormally high, prompting the Toronto City Council to respond by unveiling the Vision Zero road safety plan. Under the plan, Toronto would spend $80 million over five years to entirely eliminate traffic fatalities.
The TPS statistics may be evidence that Vision Zero is off to a strong start. According to TPS, only 59 individuals died in traffic accidents in Toronto between the start of 2017 and mid-December. If the year-to-date count provided by the TPS is accurate, it represents welcome news, and suggests that traffic accidents generally may be on the decline.
Unfortunately, that suggestion isn’t a particularly strong one. After all, the TPS data only counts traffic fatalities. A decrease in fatalities doesn’t necessarily mean non-fatal accidents have also fallen. In addition, the data is limited to Toronto, not Ontario generally. So, again, we will have to wait for the MTO to clarify the data.
Protecting Yourself Before and After an Accident
Although we can hope that public programs like Vision Zero prove successful, each of us must also take steps individually to help prevent auto accidents in Ontario. Some of the most important are:
- Paying attention to, and planning for, road and weather conditions. What might be safe on warm, sunny days could be disastrous when it’s cold, icy, or dark outside. Know what road conditions are ahead of time and plan accordingly.
- Paying attention to those around you. In Ontario, drivers share the roads with pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists. Each of these groups are especially vulnerable to serious injuries as the result of an accident, and each are also notoriously easy to miss while driving. So, pay close attention to those around you.
- Wearing a seatbelt and other safety equipment. Seatbelts in a car or truck, and helmets on bicycles or motorcycles, save lives — but only when they’re actually used. You’ll be thankful you decided to use such devices if you ever are involved in an accident.
Unfortunately, even the best preventive measures can’t ensure perfect safety on the road. Ontarians injured in an accident should consult an experienced personal-injury lawyer to protect themselves and pursue the compensation the law entitles them to.
Preszler Law Firm is a Toronto personal-injury firm helping clients recover after traffic accidents of all kinds, including:
If you or a loved one has been injured in a traffic accident in Ontario, contact the expert personal-injury lawyers of Preszler Law Firm for a free consultation.