The public consultation on road safety was held from January 9 to March 3, 2017. The consultation drew a high number of participants and we wish to thank all of you who took part.
Road safety is a social issue and a subject of public interest. According to a survey conducted in November 2014, it was the number two concern for Québecers (SOM, January 2015. Attentes et satisfaction des Québécois en matière de sécurité routière (road safety: expectations and satisfaction of Québecers, survey report in French only)).
This first-ever consultation on road safety in Québec will allow everybody—individuals, groups and associations—to provide input on how to improve the road safety record; their ideas could be added to existing strategies. The consultation also aims to find out what people in Québec think about road safety best practices used elsewhere in the world.
Between 1978 (when the public automobile insurance plan came into effect) and 2015, the number of deaths on the road dropped by 80%, from 1,765 to 361. During the same period, the number of licence holders increased by 71%, and the number of vehicles on the road went up 114%.
The remarkable improvement in the road safety record is the result of a collective effort involving improvements to legislation, the development of awareness campaigns, stronger enforcement measures and advances in infrastructure and vehicle safety technologies.
However, a comparison between the 2014 and 2015 road safety records reveals that we cannot take these advances for granted and that improvements are increasingly difficult to achieve.
Despite the fact that the number of traffic accident-related deaths in Québec per 100,000 inhabitants has dropped significantly in recent years, it is still higher than the number for Ontario and for certain countries, including Sweden, Great Britain and the Netherlands. There is still room for improvement.
In the future, Québec will face major issues that need to be taken into account as we strive to continue to improve our road safety record. These issues can be grouped into four main categories:
- Demographics: From 2010 to 2015, the number of licence holders aged 65 and over increased by 29%, as opposed to 4% for the whole of the driving population. Older drivers are more at risk for health problems that could have an impact on their ability to drive.
- Environment: The size of the province, its low population density and its rugged climate make Québec one of the most challenging places in the world to develop and maintain a road network. The increasing number of people opting for active (e.g. bicycles) and public (e.g. buses) modes of transportation is another issue that cannot be overlooked.
- Technology: The constant influx of new technologies improves safety. However, as much as certain technologies may reduce driving mistakes, others can be sources of distraction, just like cell phones, and increase the risk of accidents.
- Economy: Investing appropriately is becoming a definite issue for all road safety organizations. It is increasingly important that they be able to update, innovate and adapt. Furthermore, the overall economic context (e.g. the value of the Canadian dollar, the price of oil) influences travel choices and consequently the likelihood of traffic accidents.
In order to have as many individuals, groups and associations as possible participate in the consultation, we are offering different ways of taking part:
- In person: register for one of the regional consultation sessions that will be held in 11 cities across Québec: Chibougamau, Val-d’Or, Gatineau, Baie-Comeau, Rimouski, Trois-Rivières, Saguenay, Sainte-Adèle, Sherbrooke, Montréal and Québec
- Online: complete our questionnaire covering 15 proposed topics if you wish to give your opinion online
- In writing: file a brief, or send us a letter or any other type of document in which you express your ideas and opinions
The aim of the consultation is to stimulate thought-provoking discussions in the following six priority areas:
- Legislation: Over the years, new provisions have been added to several laws and regulations in order to govern the behaviour of road users and impose stiffer penalties for offences.
- Public awareness: Every year, a variety of awareness-raising campaigns and activities are carried out throughout Québec. They include T.V. commercials, radio ads, social media and online ads and posts, and participation in trade shows and in school and business events. These initiatives set out to inform road users about good driving behaviours and to convince them to make these behaviours their own.
- Enforcement: Roadside inspections, facility audits and increased monitoring near road work zones (specifically for heavy vehicle owners, operators and drivers), targeted police operations and the control of access to the road network through the management of driver’s licences—these are all examples of strategies being used to apprehend and penalize offenders, revoke high-risk road users’ driving privileges and, ultimately, ensure that the bulk of drivers on the road are responsible and respectful and committed to safe behaviour.
- Insurance contributions: In recent years, the increasingly safe behaviour of Québec drivers has had a direct impact on the number of accidents. This has resulted in a decrease in compensation-related expenses, which in turn has allowed us to lower the insurance contributions for coverage in the event of bodily injury for over four million drivers and vehicle owners. This proves that an improved road safety record translates into real savings and that “Caution pays off!”
- Transportation infrastructure: The implementation of best practices for the development, operation and maintenance of transportation infrastructure helps reduce the number and severity of accidents for all modes of transportation, particularly for active modes (e.g. walking, cycling)
- Vehicles: Vehicles equipped with components that make driving safer and that ensure greater protection for passengers in the event of impact also contribute to a decrease in the number and severity of accidents.
The consultation will be led by two spokespersons with an undeniable interest in road safety: Ms. Claudia Di Iorio and Mr. Alain Gelly.
Their role is to promote the public consultation, to meet with interested individuals and groups during the regional consultation sessions, and to stimulate discussion among participants.
Various road safety topics will provide a framework for discussion.
In alphabetical order:
- Drinking and driving
- Driver distraction
- Driver fatigue
- Drugs and driving
- Health of drivers
- Heavy vehicles
- Insurance contributions
- Infrastructure development and maintenance, and road signs and traffic signals
- Seat belts and child safety seats
- Vehicle safety
- Young drivers and road safety education
The comments, suggestions and ideas gathered during the public consultation will be used to prepare recommendations that will be filed with the Minister of Transport, Sustainable Mobility and Transport Electrification in 2017. To learn more, visit the After the Consultation page.
The reference document, the road safety record (available in French only) and many useful links can all be found on the Reference Material page, which will connect you with the tools you need to get thinking about road safety.