Sudbury Police use crash stats to target problem areas on the roads

The Greater Sudbury Police Service has drilled-down into the data on vehicle crashes in the city between October and December of last year, and it's helping police to figure out where officers are needed the most.

"How do we eliminate collisions? It's difficult. It's a human factor involved in many of the situations."

Recent statistics show Greater Sudbury Police responded to an average of ten collision per day over the past four months. (Erik White/CBC)

If you're going to get into a car accident in the winter in Greater Sudbury, it seems more likely it will happen in the afternoon.

Recent statistics from Greater Sudbury Police show there were 909 collisions between October 1 and December 31, 2017. A further 300 crashes have been reported to police in January 2018.

It works out to roughly ten collisions per day says Sergeant Tim Burtt with the Traffic Management Unit — and the numbers show most of the crashes happened between noon and 5 p.m., with the peak at 4 p.m.

Sudbury Police look to the data to help determine where problem spots may be.

"We'll look at these numbers and we'll look at peak times, peak locations and days of the week, where we see there could be a common factor," Burtt says.

"How do we eliminate collisions? It's very difficult. It's a human factor involved in many of the situations."

But, if police know key locations and/or times of day they can focus resources in those areas. Burtt says drivers tend to obey traffic laws when a marked police car is nearby.

"They're not speeding as much. They're going to stop for a light, and the cell phone is suddenly not in the hand. But if we put an unmarked car at an intersection, those factors can still be there and we will see that."

Pay attention, drive to conditions

One of Burtt's biggest concerns is the seeming lack of attention paid by both drivers and pedestrians.

"A lot of the times the driver is trying to watch other vehicles around them, dealing with weather, etc., and [pedestrians] will just step out," he says. 

Of the 909 collisions in the final three months of 2017, 19 involved pedestrians. There have been five reported so far in January.

Burtt reminds those on foot to make sure drivers see them before crossing an intersection.

The numbers also highlight four of the main causes for crashes in Greater Sudbury: following too closely, improper turns, failing to yield right of way and loss of control.

Burtt says that loss of control usually happens when people are not driving according to winter conditions, adding that having winter tires, studded tires or four-wheel drive won't help when a vehicle loses control.

"If you don't drive according to conditions — any person out there — just hit a patch of ice and you lose control pretty easily."

"We need to adapt to the roads, simple as that."