Research Papers

A comparison of road traffic mortality and morbidity rates and road safety policies in Quebec and Ontario

Version 1
Date added June 27, 2017
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Category 2017 CARSP XXVII Toronto
Tags Research and Evaluation, Session 4C
Author/Auteur Robert Bourbeau
Stream/Volet Research and Evaluation

Slidedeck Presentation Only (no paper submitted)



Despite the important decrease in fatal and non-fatal traffic injuries recorded in the Province of Quebec over the last 30 years, Ontario still displays a better road toll. Both provinces have adopted over the years similar prevention measures, but differences can be noticed on certain characteristics. Are these differences responsible for the "traffic safety gap" observed between these two provinces. The first objective of this study is to contrast definitions of fatal and injury crashes, and to compare traffic-related mortality and morbidity rates of both provinces between 2000 and 2010. The second objective is to survey and compare traffic safety rules and prevention measures implemented in these provinces. The last objective is to identify evidence-based traffic prevention measures adopted in Ontario that could be implemented in the Province of Quebec to lower traffic casualties. This study seeks to provide a framework to conduct comparative analysis in order to explain the "traffic safety gap" between two jurisdictions. It is based on the systemic perspective and it combines qualitative and quantitative methods: (1) demographic and statistical analyses of accident data; (2) semi-directive interviews with traffic safety experts (e.g. police officers, programme managers), and (3) a systematic review of the impact of traffic safety measures introduced in Quebec and Ontario. Definitions regarding the severity of injuries − namely for fatal and serious ones − and recording practices among police officers are similar in Quebec and Ontario; they cannot explain the "traffic safety gap". Comparisons of minor injuries should be done with caution as their definition differs greatly in both provinces. For all categories of road users, Quebec records higher mortality and morbidity rates than Ontario between 2000 and 2010, especially among young male drivers. The lower traffic-related mortality and morbidity rates in Ontario are probably associated, on one hand, to a stricter graduated licensing programme and, on the other hand, to additional measures against drinking-and-driving. In 2010 for instance, Quebec would have registered about 64 fewer deaths if driver mortality rates were identical to those of Ontario. Results suggest that the adoption of currently implemented measures in Ontario could lower traffic deaths and serious injuries in Quebec. These measures target young drivers and drinking-and-driving. The Quebec graduated licensing programme could be improved by introducing additional components such as the late night driving and passenger restrictions. Two series of measures could prevent alcohol-related crashes in Quebec: (1) lowering the blood alcohol concentration for operating a motor vehicle to 50 mg/100 ml and (2) limiting alcohol availability (increasing the legal age, limiting sale points and hours). The "traffic safety gap" between Ontario and Quebec is probably attributable to several factors and it is difficult to identify all of them precisely. Our approach —based on the systemic perspective and a mixed method — is however relevant for comparing traffic safety measures between jurisdictions and for investigating crash recording practices and definitions, as well as other factors (e.g. human, vehicle, environment) associated with lower traffic casualty rates.

Robert Bourbeau