The Hamilton Police Service (HPS) reported a slight increase in traffic collisions in 2021 year over year, but says there’s been a “significant decline” in the numbers compared with 2019.
During the police services board meeting on Thursday, HPS staff revealed a moderate increase of 467 motor vehicle collisions (MVC) between 2021 and 2020 and one more fatality, 16, as a result of road incidents in the city limits.
However, there were 3,774 fewer incidents – for a drop of 32.6 per cent – in 2021 compared with the 11,593 collisions recorded in 2019.
In all, there were 7,819 crashes in 2021 resulting in a slight year-over-year increase of 1,057 reported injuries.
“The decrease from 2019 to 2021 at 32.6 per cent would be attributed to, or partially attributed to, the pandemic, which significantly impacted road use in both 2020 and 2021,” Supt. Shawn Blaj said at the board meeting on Thursday.
Of Hamilton’s 16 fatal collisions in 2021, three involved a single motor vehicle, four involved multiple vehicles, and nine were tied to both a motor vehicle and a pedestrian.
The investigation into five of those fatal collisions involved impairment through alcohol or drugs, while an error by a driver or pedestrian was a factor in seven collisions.
HPS issued 48,576, traffic tickets in 2021, a 13.7 per cent increase from the 42,714 issued in 2020.
“These statistics specific to traffic offences in the last five years remain fairly consistent with the exception of 2020, which once again a decline could be attributed to the reduced vehicle traffic on the roads due to the pandemic,” Blaj said.
He suggested traffic citations related to impairment continue to be a “concern,” particularly with drug-related driving offences, which are up 118.8 per cent since 2019.
Collisons tied to alcohol and/or drugs were up 11 per cent in 2021 to 191 compared with 172 in 2020.
The service increased its observance of drivers through R.I.D.E. programs, stopping 130,955 vehicles in 2021, an increase of 171.5 per cent over 2020.
The HPS also had six major traffic blitzes in 2021 with Project Torque, between mid-June and the end of August, issuing the most citations (1,047) for speeding, Illegal vehicle modifications and loud mufflers.
During the board meeting Supt. Treena MacSween did reference recent 2022 trends suggesting a “concerning pattern” of traffic fatalities so far.
In the first four months of this year, 10 people have died in collisions, with the latest a 36-year-old struck by a forklift at Janco Steel Ltd. on Tuesday.
The city has already had nine collisions involving pedestrians – a number that matches the total for all of 2021.
“While I can’t speak to any specificity on our 2022 fatalities as many are still under investigations, I can say the causal factors of some of them are more complex than we would like,” Blaj said.