It's Not Worth the Risk! – Canada Safety Council

It's Not Worth the Risk! – Canada Safety Council

Risk factors are everywhere in our day-to-day lives. Some risks are manageable, some are questionable… and some just simply aren’t worth the risk. To mark National Road Safety Week, May 18 – 24, the Canada Safety Council and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want to draw your attention to four specific risks behind the wheel that are deadly, devastating and #NotWorthTheRisk.

“In the context of vehicle safety, there are four types of risks that we see result in injury and fatality far too often,” said Gareth Jones, President and CEO of the Canada Safety Council. “Speed, distraction, impairment and lack of seatbelt use continue as prevalent issues on Canadian roadways, and moving the needle on road safety means helping people make better discretionary behavioral choices.”

According to the most recent data available from the International Transport Forum Road Safety Data (ITFRSD), speed is a factor in approximately 23 per cent of fatal crashes in Canada, with 40 per cent of the drivers in these cases being between 16 and 24 years of age.

“This campaign is about an honest assessment of risk versus reward when drivers make decisions behind the wheel. In the moment, decisions are generally focused on personal needs and individual assessments of acceptable risk, with little regard or thought to what that could potentially mean for others. Canadians must be responsible citizens on Canada’s shared roads.”, says Chief Robert Martin, Chair of the CACP Traffic Safety Committee.

This should not come as a shock to most drivers, either — a study commissioned by Transport Canada shows that 70 per cent of Canadians admit to exceeding the speed limit at times on residential and rural roads, while 81 per cent admitted to doing so on highways.

Slow down on the roads. Excessive speeds can be dangerous for you, for your fellow road users, and give everyone involved less time to react to the space around them.

Any action that takes a driver’s eyes off the road can constitutes distracted driving, though a predominant focus of the issue continues to be device use behind the wheel.

In some parts of Canada, distracted driving fatalities have overtaken impaired driving fatalities — they impact Canadian drivers to the tune of an estimated 20 per cent of all fatal collisions. Despite the known risks and frequent media attention on the issue, a 2020 CAA poll reported that 47 per cent of Canadians have typed a message or used the voice memo feature behind the wheel.

“It’s our responsibility as conscientious road users to remain vigilant at all times and stay focused on the task at hand,” said Jones.

Leave the phone alone. If there’s an urgent call you must take, pull over before doing so. Driving is a complex task with many moving parts. As such, it requires your full attention.

Impairment can fall under one of three major headings: alcohol impairment, drug impairment and fatigue impairment. All three can significantly affect your ability to react quickly, to drive defensively and to avoid collisions.

The most recent data available from Transport Canada’s National Collision Database demonstrates that one in five fatal collisions involved alcohol as a contributing factor. Research from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation points to 42.4 per cent of fatally injured drivers testing positive for drugs, the majority of which were cannabis and central nervous system depressants.

Furthermore, the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators estimates that driver fatigue is a factor in approximately 20 per cent of fatal collisions.

These behaviours are not new, nor are they reasonable to engage in behind the wheel. Don’t drive while impaired — take a taxi, get a friend to give you a ride, or simply wait until you’re no longer impaired to hit the road.

Generally, Canadians are getting the message — seat belt use over recent years has hovered around the 95 per cent mark. However, according to the ITFRSD, more than 30 per cent of vehicle occupants who were killed in 2018 were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the crash.

Seatbelt use in Canada should be second nature. Worn correctly, they can significantly reduce the likelihood of death and serious injury. Buckle up!

The common factor in all these behaviours is simple: they are all choices that drivers make. And yet, the data clearly demonstrates two salient points: they all have direct correlations with death and injury, and they are all widely accepted to be dangerous, yet the prevalence of these issues is widespread.

Drive safely, with your eyes on the road, your full attention to the task, your faculties unimpaired and your seatbelt on. Driving any differently is #NotWorthTheRisk.

For more information, please contact: Lewis Smith Manager, National Projects, Canada Safety Council lewis.smith@safety-council.org