Tougher laws, stricter policing, and safer cars have reduced the number of people killed on Ontario roads by half in the last 20 years, according to the latest statistics released by the province Friday.
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Tougher laws, stricter policing and safer cars have reduced the number of people killed on Ontario roads by half in the last 20 years, according to the latest statistics released by the province Friday.
The Ontario Road Safety Annual Report shows that provincial roads are the safest in North America on a per capita basis.
Overall, the number of traffic fatalities fell to 631 in 2008 – 134 fewer deaths than in 2007 – and about half of the 1,237 killed in 1988.
Collision-related injuries also declined – to about 63,000 from about 121,000 during the same period.
“We’ve got some of the toughest legislation in the world,” Ontario Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne said on Friday.
“I think you’re seeing a culture shift. Twenty-five years ago there was a really different attitude about getting in the car and driving after you’ve been drinking. In Ontario we’ve made a very definite push,” she said.
The report shows a 29 percent drop in the number of fatalities related to drinking and driving; a 17 percent reduction in speed-related fatalities and a 24 percent decline in fatalities involving large trucks between 2007 and 2008 – all areas in which the province has enforced tougher laws and stiffer penalties in recent years.
“Police enforcement today is seen as part of the safety message, not just fines and consequences,” said Brian Patterson, president of the Ontario Safety League.
There’s never been more concentrated education than now,” he said.
The road safety document, which is based on an analysis of police collision reports, shows that younger drivers are most at risk of being involved in collisions.
Pedestrians accounted for 94 of the 2008 fatalities and about 4,500 injuries.
Four children under 4 years died in car crashes in 2008.