While road safety has been consistently improving in recent years, there are still too many fatal or near-fatal accidents caused by risky driving behaviours. SSQ, in collaboration with the SAAQ, Quebec’s automobile insurance bureau, has identified the 4 most common causes of road accidents since 2010.

1. Distraction

According to police reports, distraction is the leading cause of accidents. There are many sources of distraction including cell phone use, eating or drinking at the wheel, conversations with other passengers, etc. Before getting behind the wheel, minimize or eliminate anything that may distract you while driving and interfere with your reflexes.

2. Drinking and driving

Driving while under the influence is responsible for 160 deaths on average each year. Between 2009 and 2013, 36% of deceased drivers registered a blood alcohol level over .08%. Moreover, 81% of DUI offenses were first-time offenses.

3. Speeding

Speed is responsible for an average of 155 deaths and 570 cases of serious injury each year.
Did you know that in urban areas the risk of being involved in an accident doubles with each 5 km/hr you exceed the speed limit? That means that if every driver reduced their speed by 5 km/hr, the number of deaths and serious injuries would decrease by 15%.

4. Driver fatigue

Fatigue at the wheel is responsible for 20% of fatal accidents and 23% of accidents involving physical injury. Most drivers overestimate their alertness and underestimate fatigue. A laboratory study compared the effects of fatigue and alcohol on alertness. It revealed that being awake for over 17 hours is equal to an alcohol level of 50 mg per 100 ml of blood (.05%). For more information, see our article called Driver fatigue: myths and solutions.

Mario Vaillancourt
Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec