Montreal

Older pedestrians may need more time to cross roads, says SAAQ in releasing 2018 accident numbers

Fewer people than ever died or were injured on Quebec roads in 2018. But officials at Quebec's automobile insurance board are troubled by the number of elderly pedestrians who died after being struck by a vehicle.

Road fatalities and injuries in Quebec fall to 50-year low, with fewer young drivers than ever killed

Friends of the woman killed here at the intersection of Atwater Avenue and Tupper Street in December 2018 have lobbied for a change in the traffic lights to give pedestrians more time to cross. (Simon-Marc Charron/Radio-Canada)

Fewer people than ever died or were injured on Quebec roads in 2018. But officials at Quebec's automobile insurance board (SAAQ) are troubled by unsettling statistics about the number of elderly pedestrians who died after being struck by a vehicle.

The SAAQ released its annual report Thursday, detailing the number of deaths, injuries and accidents on Quebec roads in 2018.

It found the number of injured and killed dropped by almost 5 per cent year over year, to 1,723 incidents. That's despite an overall increase in the number of registered vehicles on Quebec roads.

"The number of victims is still too high from our perspective," said Lyne Vézina, the director of road safety research and development for the SAAQ.

"But it shows a kind of record for the last 50 years. It's the first time we observe a number this low."

Fewer pedestrian deaths

A drop in pedestrian fatalities was among the improvements on the roads: in 2018, 69 pedestrians died in a road accident — down from 76 in 2017. That represents a decrease of 9.2 per cent.

Vézina says what's disturbing is the number of elderly pedestrians who died. Of the 43 people over the age of 75 who died in vehicle-related accidents in 2018, 38 per cent of them were pedestrians.

An 80-year-old woman was fatally hit by a truck here in Lachine in 2017. (Simon-Marc Charron/Radio-Canada)

"That will be an age group that we will target more specifically," said Vézina. But education can only go so far: she feels the problems might be more structural.

"We see that sometimes those people don't have enough time to cross the street, for example, because they walk slower than young people," said Vézina.

"That means the time for pedestrian crossing should be increased, in some cases."

After one fatal accident at the corner of Atwater Avenue and Tupper Street, friends of the elderly victim lobbied to have the crossing time at the intersection increased.

"We will have to work with the people who are in charge of the infrastructure in the different municipalities," said Vézina.

The SAAQ will also work with the trucking industry to increase education about blindspots on trucks, she said.

Fewer young drivers dying

The report also found that fewer young drivers are dying on Quebec roads.

Fifty people between the ages of 15 and 24 died in vehicle accidents last year, down from 77 the year before.

Vézina believes better driver education programs and other recent improvements to legislation involving young drivers have made a difference.

However, in more than one-third of the fatalities, the victim was not wearing a seatbelt — a statistic that perplexes Vézina.

"Those young kids were raised with booster seats and child seats," said Vézina. "They are used to wearing seatbelts."

About the Author

Elias Abboud

Journalist

Elias Abboud is a journalist at CBC Montreal.

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