Road deaths down, distracted driving up: SQ

A tricky drive this morning, thanks to a fresh blanket of snow falling on the icy patches left by the freezing rain storm we saw a few days back, something to keep in mind as provincial police release their tally of road deaths in 2018. 

The Surete du Quebec (SQ) is reporting the overall number of road deaths is down more than eight per cent, compared to 2017. They are the lowest numbers in four years.

Speed and alcohol related deaths are both on the decline; but, trending up once again is distracted driving.

For the second year in a row, distracted driving takes the number two spot, accounting for 11 per cent of all road deaths, according to the report, and once again ahead of impaired driving.

“There is still work to do, and this cause is the only one that is still rising,” said Sgt. Joyce Kemp, spokesperson for the SQ.

In June, fines for distracted driving rose significantly to a maximum of $600 for repeat offenders. The force issued over 9,000 infractions for cell phone use in 2018, according to Kemp.

Impaired driving is once again the third highest cause of death on the roads. The SQ made 6,000 driving under the influence arrests last year, on par with previous tallies, according to Kemp.

The number of Cannabis related arrests did not change after the legalization of the drug on October 17th, Kemp said.

New rules governing young drivers seem to be helping. Deaths of drivers aged 16-24 are down significantly from 57 victims in 2017 to 39 in 2018. The most affected age groups in 2018 is drivers aged 45-64.

Incredibly, there were 45 deaths in the province where the victim failed to fasten their seatbelt, almost double the previous year’s tally.

“It’s important to remind that wearing your seatbelt is the most effective way to protect yourself against serious injuries,” Kemp said.