Fatal collisions hit 12-year high in 2020, say WRPS
Most crashes linked to distracted or impaired driving, speeding or improper seatbelts
Despite pandemic restrictions that sought to keep people at home, Waterloo regional police say 2020 was the worst year for local traffic fatalities in more than a decade.
Last year, 20 people died in 19 separate fatal collisions. That's up from 16 fatal collisions in 2019 and marks a 12-year high for the region, according to police.
"[It's] certainly very surprising," said Chief Bryan Larkin, given that local roads were unusually empty during the spring lockdown.
"One of the beliefs was the lack of traffic on our roadways was not actually calming traffic, that people had open roads and were exceeding the speed limits at a great length."
Speeding was linked to a majority of the fatal collisions last year, Larkin said, as was distracted driving, impaired driving and improper use of seatbelts.
Most crashes in rural areas, Kitchener
Taken together, police refer to these offences as the "Fatal Four" because of how often they are linked to crashes and deaths.
Police say eight of last year's collisions were caused by impaired driving and that four were caused by improper use of seatbelts.
Geographically, most of the deaths happened in rural parts of the region – where there were 10 such collisions – or in Kitchener, where there were seven.
Two fatal collisions happened in Waterloo, one that killed two people, and there were no fatal collisions in Cambridge.
Police laid 285 stunt driving charges last year, up from 143 in 2019.
Larkin said he hopes to see people driving more safely in 2021.