Author(s): Alan German, Priya Prasad, Jean-Louis Comeau
In recent years, due to initiatives such as Road Safety Vision 2010, and the National Occupant Restraint Program, Canada has seen reductions in casualties resulting from motor vehicle collisions. Indeed, the most recent collision statistics, published in 2012, show the lowest death toll on the nation's roads in almost sixty years. Furthermore, the most recent seat belt surveys, conducted in 2009-10, indicate that Canadians are buckling up in motor vehicles more than ever, with an overall usage rate in excess of 95%. Despite these very encouraging signs, the percentage of motor vehicle occupants who are fatally injured while not using seat belts remains unacceptably high at more than 35%. This problem is particularly well exemplified by fatalities resulting from single-vehicle rollover crashes. Such collisions frequently occur as a result of loss of directional control on the part of the driver, and involve vehicle yaw and a lateral rollover, a crash mode that is often benign. Belted occupants are generally retained inside the vehicle and come to little harm. However, such may well not be the case for the unbelted who are in considerable danger of being ejected from the vehicle, with the consequent potential for serious or fatal injury. The present study looks at this latter issue, both from the perspective of the national collision picture, and from a series of in-depth investigations of fatal crashes.