Long weekends are a wonderful opportunity for families to get away from the city and explore some of Ontario’s beautiful outdoors. Long weekends often involve family trips to camp sites or cottages. It’s important to remember that with long weekends comes more people on the roads, and those people travelling on the road want to arrive at their respective destinations as soon as possible so their long weekend can begin.
Using half a decade’s worth of provincial data, a recent Alberta study found that fatal accidents jumped by 18 percent on long weekends. While we would be quick to associate the increase in fatal accidents over the long weekend with impaired drivers and speeders, researchers have found quite the opposite: those causes are actually most prevalent during regular weekends.
This may be linked to the fact that on long weekends, we are more likely to find that drivers are often travelling longer distances to visit unfamiliar territory, in vehicles filled with family and friends.
This possesses two common problems: Distracted Drivers and Fatigued Drivers.
Many would be surprised to hear that more people are killed in texting-and-driving accidents than by drinking and driving. But in our technology driven society, this is a reality. Rear-end and angular crashes, often indicative of driver distraction, are far more common during the long weekends. Distracted drivers are commonly found fiddling with maps, GPS, cellphones, Bluetooth devices and other gadgets to find their way. The chances of catastrophic multi-vehicle crashes are heightened when we combine these distractions with higher traffic volume and higher vehicle occupancy.
Fatigued drivers are also more common during the long weekend, when journeys are longer and more tedious than drivers are accustomed to. Collisions with fatigued drivers more likely to involve rear-end or head-on collisions on higher-speed roadways, and can result in serious injuries. Fatigue has a huge impact on a driver’s ability to drive safely, and is often compared to the effect of drinking and driving.
Fatigued drivers are more susceptible to collisions, as they have slower reaction times, lack concentration, reduced vigilance and poor judgement, and can even nod off while driving, which has dire consequences even if it occurs for a few seconds. In a recent poll conducted by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), well over a million Ontario drivers admitted that they have fallen asleep or nodded off while driving at least once in the past year. These drivers account for about 5.5 million trips in Ontario during which they fell asleep or nodded off. Some common driving behaviours associated with fatigued driving includes inconsistent speed, frequent lane changes/weaving, sudden braking and speeding.
If you or a loved one is injured in a motor vehicle collision over the long weekend, it is important that you understand your rights, and how to protect the rights of your family members.