OPP patrols ramp up for the long weekend in response to increase in fatal collisions

Ontario Provincial Police say the number of fatal collisions on OPP-patrolled roads has risen since the start of the pandemic.

So far, 138 people have died in collisions between January 1 and July 26.

OPP say in 57% of those cases, at least one of the ‘Big 4’ factors played a part: alcohol and drug impairment, aggressive driving, distracted driving and failure to wear a seatbelt.

“There are a lot of cars out there speeding,” says Al Pinheiro, of Active Towing in Kitchener. “A lot of them in and out of traffic, just trying to get where they’re going. There weren’t as many cars in the pandemic. I think those guys got used to having wide open roads, and now with more traffic on the road, they’re not adjusting to the driving habits they should be.”

Friday’s crash in Elmira is just the latest example of what Pinheiro has been seeing on the road.

A 46-year-old woman and a two-year-old child were seriously injured after their car was struck by a large commercial truck on Listowel Road, causing the truck to flip over.

“I’m coming back from Elmira and I think there could’ve been at least four or five cars, if not more, involved. Right there, just everybody not paying attention and everybody in a rush,” he says.

A new CAA survey backs up the dangerous driving trend.

They say 55% of Ontario drivers admit to unsafe driving, with 95% claiming they witnessed dangerous driving from other motorists.

In response to the increase in fatal collisions, OPP have ramped up patrols for the Civic Day long weekend.

“We have an aircraft, as well, patrolling overhead, keeping an eye out for dangerous, aggressive [drivers], following too close, [and] unsafe passing,” says Sgt. Kerry Schmidt.

OPP are asking all drivers to follow the rules of the road so they can get home safely.