The deadliest season on the roads of Quebec began a few days ago and, already, “it follows the trend” of previous years, warned the director of the CAA-Quebec Foundation, Marco Harrison.
According to CAA, the 75-day period between Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day and Labour Day is historically when the most fatal traffic accidents occur in the province.
“There are already five deaths on the roads in six days,” Harrison said in a telephone interview Thursday.
In 2021, a total of 92 deaths occurred during these two and a half months, according to the road safety report of the Société d’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ).
Although this period only makes up one-fifth of the year, it saw more than a quarter of its 347 deaths.
It’s the season when “we see a lot of motorcyclists, cyclists, there are more pedestrians on the streets,” and more traffic means more accidents, SAAQ spokesperson Mario Vaillancourt explained in a telephone interview.
“Unfortunately, sharing the road is still a difficult thing for some of the road users to understand,” Harrison added.
He also pointed out that there is “an influx of visitors who come from outside, whether from another province or from the United States.”
There is “a substantially higher number of recreational vehicles on the roads,” he added.
“During the two years of the pandemic, there has been a craze for this type of vehicle and it is sold a lot.”
CAA’s annual Summer Travel Intentions Survey, released June 1, indicates that almost half (45 per cent) of Quebecers plan to travel within the province, compared with 28 per cent who will go elsewhere in Canada or abroad, and 20 per cent who will stay at home.
Speed and distraction
Harrison and Vaillancourt agree that the main causes of collisions are distraction and speeding.
“Most people are on vacation, so I don’t see the urge to drive fast, to be distracted,” Harrison said.
He made a point of recalling the importance of staying on the lookout, making sure that you are seen and always keeping a safe distance from other cars, in order to always have the leeway to brake suddenly or avoid an obstacle.
The SAAQ also warns against the consequences of fatigue at the wheel during long vacation journeys with the awareness campaign “Stop before fatigue stops you,” launched in recent weeks.
Despite everything, “for a good 10 years, the road record has still improved,” Vaillancourt said.
“The number of accidents as such is decreasing.”
However, he said that “one death is always one too many.”
In 2011, the number of deaths was 479, 132 more than in 2021.