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Number of collisions down on Ontario roads, but higher percentage are fatal, OPP reports

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) this week released its 2020 collision and fatality data, noting historic highs in deaths among some vehicle user classes.  

During a year that saw a significant reduction in traffic on OPP-patrolled roads, collisions in 2020 resulted in a higher fatality rate than in the previous year. Of note is that there were 26 per cent fewer collisions in 2020, but the fatality rate was 22 per cent higher when compared to 2019 collisions.

In 2020, there were 55,581 collisions, 285 of which were fatal (305 lives lost), whereas in the previous year, there were 75,128 collisions, 304 of which were fatal (335 lives lost).      

A significant number of the fatalities were preventable and attributed to careless and dangerous driving behaviours, say police. Among the deaths, 62 were linked to speed, 51 to alcohol/drug use and 45 to driver inattention. Lack of seat belt use contributed to 55 driver/passenger deaths.

Transport trucks (or other commercial vehicles) were involved in 6,145 of last year’s collisions.

Forty-two motorcyclists were killed, marking a sharp increase over the 27 deaths in 2019. Failing to yield right-of-way and excessive speed were leading factors. In 37 of the incidents, no other vehicles were involved, underscoring the fact that motorcyclists are vulnerable road users who cannot afford to take any unnecessary risks. 

 Marine fatalities reached a 12-year high and were almost double over 2019, with 32 people killed in boating incidents. Capsized vessels (17) and falling overboard (12) were leading primary causes, with paddlers accounting for half of those who died. As is the case every year, the majority of the deceased (29) were found not wearing a life jacket – a simple measure that could have significantly reduced the number of deaths.      

Last year’s 23 off-road vehicle fatalities marked the highest number of deaths in 14 years. Eight of those who died were not wearing a helmet. Four of the riders were wearing a helmet, but with the chin strap unfastened. Alcohol/drugs was a factor in approximately one third of the deaths. 

The OPP has responded to 15 snowmobile fatalities so far this season, surpassing the 13 deaths during the 2019/20 season. Driving too fast for the conditions was a factor in half of the fatalities. The OPP is reminding snowmobilers to avoid riding on frozen waterways, especially this late in the season. To date, three people have died after their snowmobiles broke through the ice or were driven into open water.  

A fire Mar. 11 at an on-farm business, Forestview Kitchens, on Crowsfoot Road was largely contained to a dust collector bin. Firefighters from Maryhill, Breslau and Conestogo were on the scene for about an hour and a half. [Damon MacLean]

MARCH 12

8:32 AM | Waterloo Regional Police received a report of a theft of a catalytic converter from a truck in the area of Snyders Road East in Wilmot Township. The theft is believed to have sometime overnight on March 9th. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 519-570-9777 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. 

4:22 PM | Waterloo Regional Police received a report of thefts from motor vehicles at a residence on Katherine Street South in Woolwich Township. Two vehicles that were parked on the driveway were entered and rummaged through. A garage was also entered, and a vehicle located within the garage was also gone through. Personal property was stolen from the vehicles and the garage. The theft is believed to have occurred sometime overnight on March 10th to March 11th. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 519-570-9777 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. 

8:25 PM | Police received a report of a fraud that occurred at a store on Farmer’s Market Road near St. Jacobs Woolwich Township. The store reported that on February 21, a female used a quick-change scam to take money from a cashier. The business suffered some financial loss. The female has been described as white, wearing a toque with a large pompom on the top, a black jacket, black spandex pants and black boots. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 519-570-9777 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. 

An early morning blaze levelled a home in Linwood Mar. 12, with all residents evacuated uninjured. Firefighters from Linwood, Wellesley and St. Clements responded to a call just after 4:30 a.m., arriving at the Manser Road address to find the house fully engulfed by flames. [Joe Merlihan]

MARCH 15

9:56 AM | Waterloo Regional Police responded to the area of New Jerusalem Road in Woolwich Township for a report of a break and enter at a construction site. Sometime between March 14 at 9 p.m., and March 15 at 7 a.m., unknown suspects cut the padlock off a large construction trailer and stole an undisclosed amount of construction tools. The investigation remains ongoing. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact police at 519-570-9777 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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