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Road Safety Year lives up to its name

MONTREAL, Que. - The results are in on the number of highway and off-road accidents last year, declared Road Safety Year by Transports Quebec. The Societe de l'assurance automobile du Quebec (SAAQ) re...


INTELLIGENT BORDER: Electronic signboards inform a driver to report in for inspection.
INTELLIGENT BORDER: Electronic signboards inform a driver to report in for inspection.

MONTREAL, Que. – The results are in on the number of highway and off-road accidents last year, declared Road Safety Year by Transports Quebec. The Societe de l’assurance automobile du Quebec (SAAQ) reports that the total number of vehicle accidents with injuries and fatalities dropped by 5%, compared to 2006.Transport trucks beat the average, with a total reduction in injuries of 7.6% over 2006.

There were 47,940 accidents involving injuries and fatalities for all types of vehicles last year, compared to 50,484 in 2006. Since 2001, such accidents peaked at 52,188 in 2005. Transport trucks accounted for 726 of them last year, a decrease of 7.6% over the 786 transport truck accidents in 2006. The worst year for transport trucks since 2001 was 2005, with 859 accidents involving injuries and fatalities.

Having peaked at 26 in 2005, there were only 10 fatal transport truck accidents in 2007, a decrease of 41.2% from the 17 in 2006. By comparison there was a 20.1% drop in fatal car accidents between 2006 and 2007.

There were 50 serious heavy truck accidents last year, a reduction of 20.6% over the 63 in 2006; the worst year since 2001 was 2004, with 84. Cars fared better, with a 26.8% drop between 2006 and 2007.

There were 666 heavy truck accidents with light injuries in 2006, a 5.7% drop over the 706 reported in 2006.The worst year since 2001 was 2005, with 749. Cars managed a 5.4% drop between 2006 and 2007.

Transports Quebec is continuing its emphasis on road safety this year. Several pieces of new legislation, such as the Apr. 1 ban on the use of handheld cell phones, are intended to help. Quebec also introduced tougher penalties for excessive speeding on Apr. 1. SAAQ reports that speeding kills 250 people a year and injures 11,000 more.

SAAQ defines three categories of excessive speeding: Exceeding the speed limit in a 60 km/h or less zone by 40 km/h; exceeding the speed limit in a 60 km/h to 90 km/h zone by more than 50 km/h and; exceeding the speed limit in a 100 km/h zone by more than 60 km/h.

SAAQ has doubled the fines and the number of demerit points for the first, second and third excessive speeding offences. For example, drivers caught going 95 km/h in a 50 km/h zone would be fined $520 and lose six demerit points. Going 145 km/h in a 90 km/h zone would cost $710 and 10 demerit points. Doing 180 km/h in a 100 km/h zone would cost $1,240 and 14 demerit points.

If, within 10 years of having been convicted of excessive speeding a recalcitrant driver gets caught again, the number of demerit points will remain doubled but the fine will triple.

Sometime in the next few months the government will declare in force additional penalties for excessive speeding: There will be an immediate seven-day driver’s licence suspension for a first offence. Somewhat vaguer is a promise to immediately suspend a speeder’s driver’s licence for 30 or 60 days for excessive speeding within 10 years of having been convicted some unspecified number of times before. The speeder’s vehicle would also immediately be seized and impounded for 30 days.

Drinking and driving was also supposed to be rewarded with tougher penalties: a 90-day suspension instead of the current 60, with repeat offenders having their vehicles impounded for 30 days.

Word from SAAQ is that it has still not set up its planned 15 photo radar sites and the government has not yet declared in force the 105 km/h speed limiter legislation for trucks, part of an Apr. 1 law. The Transport Commission, as part of its 2006-2009 strategic plan, wants to develop a process for evaluating the behaviour of truck drivers and owners by 2009.


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