August 7, 2019 by Jason Contant
A combination of technology, legislation and behaviour change are contributing to a downward trend in road injuries and fatalities in Saskatchewan, including a substantial decrease last year, the Minister responsible for Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) suggested at a press conference Friday.
“Behaviour change takes time, we know that,” Joe Hargrave said at the press conference alongside SGI’s senior vice president of traffic safety, Kwei Quaye. “The fact is thanks to technology, legislation and most importantly, driver behaviour, our roads are much safer today than they were even a few decades ago.
“We’ve seen substantial improvement even over the last 10 years,” Hargrave said. “We’ve seen progress, but we want to see more.”
There were substantially fewer people hurt or killed in collisions on Saskatchewan roads in 2018 than the previous 10-year average, SGI noted in a press release. Preliminary data for 2018 from SGI indicates 4,220 people were injured and 129 killed due to vehicle collisions on public roads in the province. This represents a 34% drop in injuries and a 9% drop in deaths compared to the yearly averages from 2008-2017 (injuries: 6,353, deaths: 142).
There was also fewer total casualties in 2018 across each of the ‘Big Four’ categories – impaired driving; distracted driving; speeding; and seatbelt use (or improper occupant restraint, such as seatbelts, car seats and booster seats) – compared to the 10-year average. The ‘Big Four’ are the main contributors to vehicle injuries and fatalities.
For example, the 10-year average for impaired driving injuries and deaths was 658 and 57, respectively, compared to 355 injuries and 42 deaths in 2018. Distracted driving saw an even larger drop, from 1,847 distracted driving injuries and 43 deaths on average between 2008-2017 to 768 injuries and 22 deaths last year.
“We’re going to continue our awareness campaign on distracted driving and impaired driving,” Hargrave said. “Those are two of the ‘Big Four’ that are causing a lot of the accidents and injuries.”
2012 saw the largest number of injuries and deaths over the past decade, with 183 people killed and more than 7,300 injured. It prompted the formation of a Special Committee on Traffic Safety. The committee’s recommendations led to a number of new pieces of legislation and traffic safety initiatives over the following years, including:
Saskatchewan residents now have, on average, “the lowest overall personal vehicle insurance rates in Canada for a comparable package of coverage,” McMurchy said. The true average private passenger vehicle class premium is $1,062 in the 2018 calendar year, including Safe Driver Recognition/Business Recognition discounts.