More young people died on Quebec's roads last year, report finds

That spike halts a downward trend that began in 2012, during which 103 young people from 15 to 24 years old lost their lives.

Spike in road deaths halts downward trend that began in 2012

Including cyclists and pedestrians, 75 people between the ages of 15 to 24 died in road collisions in Quebec last year, a 56% increase from 2016. (Marc-Antoine Lavoie/Radio-Canada)

Young drivers were increasingly involved in fatal collisions on Quebec's roads last year, according to government figures released Tuesday.

Including cyclists and pedestrians, 75 people between the ages of 15 to 24 died in road collisions last year, up from 48 in 2016.

Speeding and dangerous driving are the main factors in the deaths, the report found.

The spike halts a downward trend that began in 2012. That year, 103 young people in that age group lost their lives in vehicle-related crashes.

The statistics from 2016 showed that year was a very good one for road safety in this province — the best year since 1946.

Transport Minister André Fortin and Nathalie Tremblay, the head of Quebec's automobile insurance board, officially presented the report on road deaths and collisions in 2017 in Quebec City Tuesday. 

Friends placed a teddy bear at a tree in Joliette last October, the site of a car crash that killed two teenagers and critically wounded two others. The driver was 15 years old. (CBC)

New measures to curb deaths

The total number of road collisions actually decreased year over year by 474, going from 37,664 in 2016 to 37,190 in 2017.

But fatal collisions went up in 2017 by 3.8 per cent, from 346 to 359. Both figures are more or less on par with the five-year average.

One in five young people who died in road crashes in 2017 were involved in collisions between midnight and four a.m.

Changes to the Highway Safety Code, passed last month, seem to at least partially address that fact. The changes to the law forbids those with learners' permits to drive between midnight and 5 a.m.

Between those same hours, drivers who are 19 and younger can only have a limited number of passengers of the same age.

"Even in the years that we do well, young drivers are always over-represented in the number of accidents, number of deaths on our roads. So we have to put forward new ideas, new measures, and that's what we did with the Highway Safety Code," said Fortin.

Senior pedestrian, cyclist deaths up

On the other end of the age spectrum, the number of fatalities among those 75 and up decreased by almost a third, going from 55 deaths to 40.

However, 40 per cent of pedestrians struck and killed were in that age group.

The total number of pedestrian deaths increased from 62 to 69.

Fortin said while it's difficult to pinpoint the reason for increased numbers, statistics show collisions linked to distracted driving are on the rise.

The Highway Safety Code reforms aimed to address that by increasing the penalties — a $300 fine for the first offence, and an automatic three-day licence suspension, vehicle impoundment and $600 fine for a recurrence in the two following years. 

The number of cyclists killed on the roads also increased, from eight in 2016 to 11 in 2017. Deaths among motorcyclists went down, from 54 to 49.

With files from Radio-Canada's Alex Boissonneault