|Date added||July 10, 2018|
|Category||2018 CARSP XXVIII Victoria|
|Tags||Research and Evaluation, Session 7A|
|Stream/Volet||Research and Evaluation|
The safety of Canada's road network has been of concern to road safety professionals for the past 50 years. In order to improve the safety of the users of this network, whether they be drivers, occupants, or vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists, various levels of governments have implemented laws, regulations, policies, enforcement and awareness/education campaigns, administrative measures related to driver licensing and improvement and road infrastructure enhancements. To assist in the coordination of these measures, the federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal governments have cooperated on several national road safety strategies since 1996 (i.e., Road Safety Vision 2000 and 2010, Road Safety Strategy 2015 and the current Road Safety Strategy 2025). The aim of this paper is to examine the impact of the first three of these strategies on the overall level of road safety in Canada up to 2015 in terms of the numbers and rates of fatalities and serious injuries resulting from collisions, as well as progress on a number of specific road safety indicators including seat belt use, unbelted occupants involved in these collisions, the involvement of alcohol and other drugs, including cannabis, distracted driving as a contributing factor in collisions, collisions at intersections, and the involvement of young drivers, vulnerable road users, and heavy commercial vehicles in collisions. Using data from the National Collision Database, coroner data, and observational survey data, the progress on these indicators is examined, although it should be noted that data for all indicators were not available for all years. The results show that fatalities and serious injuries have declined by 43% and 56% respectively from 1996 onward. Fatalities and serious injuries dropped by 14% and 30% during RSV 2000 (1996-2000), 19% and 15% during RSV 2010 (2001-2010) and 20% and 26% during RSS 2015 (2011-2015) compared to the five-year period before each strategy. The fatality rate per billion kilometres traveled decreased from 7.6 to 5.6 during RSS 2015 compared to 2006-2010, a drop of 26%. Similarly, the serious injury rate declined from 40.6 to 30.7, a decline of 24.4 %. Seat belt use increased steadily over the years from 89% during 1996-2000 to 95% in 2010 based on observational surveys. This increase in belt use has translated into reductions of 46.7% and 34.4% in unrestrained occupants, who were seriously injured or killed during the final three years of the RSV 2010 plan (i.e., 2008-2010) compared to the 1996-2000 baseline period. The percentage of unbelted occupants has continued to decline up to 2015 by 38.3% for fatally injured and 42.5% for seriously injured occupants. The percentage of fatally injured drivers who had been drinking prior to the collision decreased from 36% during the period 1996-2000 to 29.2% during 2011-2014, a decrease of 18.9%. The percentage of serious injury collisions involving alcohol, which has only been collected since 2005, dropped from 20.1% during 2006-2010 to 16.6% during 2011-2014, a decline of 17.4%. The presence of drugs which has only been captured since 2000, went up from 36.7% during 2001-2005 to 41.9% during 2011-2014, an increase of 14%. Given the impending legalization of cannabis use in 2018, the percentage of fatally injured drivers who had cannabis in their body was examined. During 2001-2005, 13.6% of drivers had cannabis present and in 2011-2014, this percentage had increased to 18.8, an increase of 38.2%. According to NCDB data, distracted driving was cited by the police as a contributing factor in 14.5% of fatal collisions during 2006-2010 and 19.1% during 2011-2015, an increase of 32%. Distracted driving in serious injury collisions increased 30%. The percentage of drivers observed to be using electronic communication devices while driving will be compared between the 2012-13 and 2016-2017 waves of the survey once the data become available. The change on indicators such as involvement of young drivers (16-24), vulnerable road users, and heavy commercial vehicles, in fatal and serious injury collisions, will also be presented. There will also be a discussion of what countermeasures have contributed to the improvement of road safety over this 20-year time period including seat belt laws and their enforcement, impaired driving measures (e.g., laws, enforcement, ignition interlock, etc.), graduated driver licensing, vehicle and road infrastructure improvements, among others. In the absence of a comparison country, it is not possible to conclude that they have been the reason for the improved level of safety. However, the United States, which has not had national road safety strategies similar to those in Canada has not experienced a similar level of improvement of road safety. While these strategies appear to have been successful in reducing fatalities and serious injuries overall, it is clear that impairment by drugs and distraction are growing in prevalence.