With summer vacation comes the deadliest 75 days on the road in Quebec, the SAAQ says
The SAAQ foundation is urging drivers to slow down, pay attention and take rests when tired, as they enter the most deadly stretch of the year on Quebec roads. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
MONTREAL -- Summer vacations are the busiest time of the year on Quebec roads, but also sadly the deadliest, according to the CAA-Quebec Foundation.
The foundation is hoping Quebecers can be reminded to be more cautious in order to avoid numerous road fatalities.
In recent years, close to 100 people lost their lives between June 24 and Labour Day, and 2020 was no exception.
The foundation said that during these 75 days, road accidents caused 98 deaths, or 28.8 per cent of the 340 deaths that occurred during the year.
The foundation's report is based on data compiled by the Societe de l'assurance automobile du Quebec (SAAQ).
Last year's busy season was unusual in terms of travel in the province due to the pandemic, and the upcoming summer promises to be similar.
Inter-regional travel may be even more prevalent as 83 per cent of respondents to a CAA-Quebec survey say they plan to vacation in la Belle Province.
"The deconfinement plan announced by the Francois Legault government means that many regions will go green and it will be much easier to travel from one region to another," said foundation director Marco Harrison. "We think that if we don't make the effort in terms of road safety, we may find ourselves with a record comparable to that of the year 2020, which we don't want to happen."
The two main causes of accidents are speeding and distraction, particularly due to cell phone use while driving. The road safety expert urges Quebecers to ease up on their summer commute.
"There are slower vehicles, there are people with recreational vehicles, trailers and boats, so it's about taking the time to get to your destination safely, especially since you're probably going to be with your family as well," said Harrison.
CAA-Quebec says that over a 20-km distance, driving at 110 km/h instead of 90 km/h saves just two minutes.
Last year was also marked by an increase in speeding drivers, said Harrison.
With fewer cars and less congestion on the roads, "people have felt a little freer," he added.
"You can see it in the 2020 statistics," he said. "People have been having more violent collisions, which has led to more deaths. You can also see that there were a lot more deaths in single-vehicle collisions. So, speed and distraction led to losing control and people driving off the road."
The Monteregie, Quebec City, Chaudiere-Appalaches and Montreal are among the regions with the worst records during the 75 deadliest days.
CAA-Quebec also advises motorists to lengthen the distance between vehicles for better reaction time and to always keep their attention on the road.
For long distances, it is recommended to take short breaks every two hours to reduce drowsiness at the wheel.
Buckling up is not only mandatory, but also important and saves up to 35 lives per year, said CAA-Quebec.
In its 2020 report, the SAAQ mentioned that not wearing a seatbelt was associated with nearly 35 per cent of deaths. It's an omission that Harrison finds difficult to explain, even though wearing a seatbelt in a car has been mandatory for 40 years in Quebec.
-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on June 19, 2021.