Montreal

Why are there more road accidents during Quebec's construction holiday?

The construction holiday, for most people, means two weeks off work, warm weather and a chance to travel around the province. But for the Sûreté du Québec, it is one of the deadliest times of the year.

There have been 11 deadly crashes so far this year, and there's still a week to go

Over the past five years, an average of 16 people have died in vehicle accidents the during two-week construction holiday. (Jérôme Labbé/Radio-Canada)

The construction holiday, for most people, means two weeks off work, warm weather and a chance to travel around the province.

But for the Sûreté du Québec it means more accidents on Quebec's roads.

"The construction holiday is always our two deadliest weeks in the year," said Paul Leduc, a spokesperson for the SQ.

The spike in deadly accidents, he said, can be linked to an increase in the number of people on the road.

"It's the holidays. People don't work, they tend to party a little more, stay out late a little more and take risks, unfortunately," said Leduc.

Over the past five years, an average of 16 people have died in vehicle accidents the during two-week construction holiday. So far this year, there have been 11 crashes and 11 deaths. The construction holiday ends Aug. 3.

"That's almost one person a day since the construction holiday started," said Leduc.

Speed is the number one cause of accidents

The SQ has been tracking the number of accidents in the province during the construction holiday for more than a decade.

Speeding is the number one cause of these accidents, said Leduc. Accidents caused by drivers under the influence of alcohol, however, are on the decline.

Speeding is the number one cause of road accidents, according to the SQ. (Radio-Canada)

The SQ was giving out around 8,500 DUI offences per year. That number since dropped to 5,500 per year, Leduc said, noting that reflects a Canada-wide trend.

But drunk driving is still the third leading cause of road-related fatalities in Quebec.Distracted driving — such as texting at the wheel — is number two. 

SQ warns drivers to take precautions as well

The SQ takes measures to mitigate the number of accidents during the construction holiday, including putting more officers on the road.

"There is a lot of overtime being put in to patrol [this week] and next weekend," said Leduc.

Despite these measures, the SQ emphasizes that it is also the responsibility of the public to look after their own safety during the holiday. Leduc advises drivers to follow the speed limit and abstain from drinking alcohol when driving. 

"We have to remind people how important it is to follow the rules so they can come back from this holiday in good health," he said.

With files from Franca Georgia Mignacca

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