News / Toronto

Aggressive driving deaths in Ontario spike 80 per cent

Road safety advocates say it’s time for policymakers and city planners to focus more on law enforcement and infrastructure improvement.

A scene of a recent fatal crash in Mississauga.

File / Torstar News Service Order this photo

A scene of a recent fatal crash in Mississauga.

Aggressive driving is at an all-time high in Ontario and local road safety advocates say it’s time for policymakers and city planners to focus more on law enforcement and infrastructure improvement.

The Ontario Provincial Police’s latest report on road safety indicates an 80 per cent spike in fatalities caused by dangerous driving in 2017. Twenty-seven people have been killed in road crashes so far this year, compared to 15 at the same time last year.

“It’s really frustrating for us,” said OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt. “We see people in a hurry, in a rush, every single day, trying to make up for lost time and in doing so they’re putting themselves and everyone in their vicinity in danger.”

Incidents of speeding, tailgating, running through red lights and driving over the shoulder on highways are all examples of drivers not paying attention to the world around them, said Schmidt. At least half of the people killed in car crashes this year were driving properly, but were involved in collisions with people who weren’t, he added.

Schmidt did not have a breakdown of the stats for Toronto or the GTA but warned as summer approaches and even more people prepare for road trips and “cruising,” it’s important for drivers to change their mindset.

“I just wish people could learn from other people’s mistakes. All we need is a cooperative spirit on the road,” he said.

Maureen Coyle of pedestrian advocacy group Walk Toronto said the high jump shows the city and the province are still far away from realizing the Vision Zero target.

The city announced an ambitious Vision Zero plan last summer to reduce road deaths within Toronto, but as the OPP stats show, dangerous driving is still an issue throughout the province, she added.

“Our road safety plans are not extensive, and we don’t have the infrastructure needed,” she said, decrying “victim blaming” rhetoric that encourages pedestrians and cyclists to be more vigilant.

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