With many Ontarians on a few months-long hiatus due to the of Covid-19 imposed lockdowns, the roads have been much emptier than many of us could have ever imagined. Far fewer people have been commuting to work and non-essential trips have been discouraged (at least until around this past July that is). Surely, one could assume that the much emptier roads must have been a boon for Toronto’s Vision Zero program, a program which was designed in an attempt trying to bring the total death and serious injury rate on Toronto roads down to a zero by the end of 2021. Unfortunately as of recent, our car accident lawyers have found that this seems to not have been the case.
Statistics from Vision Zero Road Safety Plan
In the early days of the COVID lockdown (the last two weeks of March) the Toronto Police reported a nearly three times increase in stunt driving incidents From approximately March to April 2020. During this period nearly 7000 speeding tickets were been handed out by the Toronto Police. That is about a 25% increase in comparison to the same period last year, when there were far more vehicles were out on the roads. With that being said, collisions are down about 20% in comparison to 2019’s reportings
The decreasing numbers of car accidents in Toronto are encouraging but also point to another endemic problem – stunt driving.
An increase in ‘stunt driving’
Recent reports of road accidents hint that while accidents are less frequent, they are becoming more severe in nature. The Toronto Sun recently reported on a car crash which was caused by a speeding vehicle losing control, that had begun travelling in the opposite direction and consequently ended up in a head-on collision with an SUV. Subsequently, the vehicle was ripped entirely in half and the passenger was ejected from the vehicle. As Toronto car accident lawyers, we know all too well that the higher the speed of the accident, the greater the severity of injuries.
What constitutes stunt driving in Ontario?
‘Stunt driving’ captures particularly unsafe actions and manoeuvres on public roads. Drivers who are “stunt driving” are said to be in only limited control of the vehicle and pose a danger to the safety of other road users. Under Ontario Regulation 455/07 of the Highway Traffic Act, manoeuvres such as these are illegal:
- Drifting, burnouts, donuts and intentionally trying to make the tires lose traction.
- Two or more vehicles racing close to each other for longer than it is reasonable to overtake.
- Carrying a person in the trunk of the vehicle.
- Trying to drive the car without having the driver in the driver’s seat.
- Popping a wheelie (or stoppie) or driving with the intention to lift some or all vehicles off the road.
- Driving more than 50 km/h over the speed limit.
- Driving at 150 km/h or faster (highway or city roads).
- Driving without due care and attention such that it endangers other road users (including weaving in and out of lanes).
Stunt driving captures what is perhaps the most dangerous behaviour on the province’s roads. Alarmingly, Toronto Police says there were 222 instances of stunt driving reported from March-April 2020, which is six times more than for the same period in 2019 (where there were 32 instances reported). The Toronto Police also stated that it has been observing people drive over three times the normal speed limit during this same period. Some drivers have been caught doing more than 60 km/h over the speed limit posted in the city.
Based on these findings, it is difficult to state and or conclude that reduced traffic due to the Covid-19 lockdown has made Toronto’s roads any safer. Please ensure that you are observing speed limits and continuing to drive safely. If you find yourself involved in a car accident in Ontario, call a car accident lawyer at Pace Law Firm immediately.