TORONTO, Ont. – A startling new report suggests 20% of Canadians (about 4.1 million people) admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel within the last year.
“Over 26% of all fatal injury crashes involve fatigue,” Mark Yakabuski, vice-president of the Insurance Bureau of Canada, told a driver fatigue symposium in Toronto recently. “That means that over 180 people are killed on our roads because of fatigue in Ontario alone, and over 400 across Canada every year.”
Research has shown fatigue has similar effects on drivers as alcohol consumption. It slows reaction time, decreases awareness and increases the likelihood of an accident. However, Yakabuski admitted it’s much harder to prove a driver has been sleep-deprived.
Ontario Transport Minister Donna Cansfield was at the conference and she told delegates the province recognizes fatigued drivers are a serious problem on roadways.
She said safe driving “is a personal requirement, a personal responsibility and a personal obligation because driving in this province is a privilege, not a right.”
However, she admitted there’s not much the province can do to enforce adequate rest for drivers of passenger vehicles. For its part, she said the province has been adding shoulder edge and center line rumble strips and also keeping rest areas open year-round.
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