The fast & the furious: Escalating commuter stress compounding GTA’s road safety crisis

RSA Canada’s TruceTO survey reveals GTA residents feel increasingly unsafe on Toronto’s streets

  • 85 per cent of everyone who walks, cycles or drives agree that road rage continues to be a serious problem (up two per cent from 2018)
  • 51 per cent of cyclists (up three per cent from 2018), 20 per cent of drivers and 19 per cent of pedestrians feel unsafe on the streets of the GTA. Even more telling among cyclists age 18 and older, 57 percent feel unsafe (up 9 per cent from 2018)
  • 36 per cent of drivers, cyclists and pedestrians believe that the city needs to invest more in driver, pedestrian and cyclist education to make our streets safer
  • 56 per cent of GTA residents admit that they are simply not familiar enough with what the city is doing to prioritize road safety

TORONTO, June 5, 2019 /CNW/ – In the city of Toronto, road rage continues to worsen at an unprecedented rate. According to a recent TruceTO survey commissioned by RSA Canada, over 85 per cent of GTA road users who walk, drive or cycle all agree that it’s a serious problem – that’s only getting worse – which is causing a great deal of stress among citizens.

More than 73 per cent of all working adults aged 20 to 64 admit to experiencing stress, and a key source of that stress is commuting. With long commutes come traffic, higher levels of anxiety and less time for other activities. Stress and bad road behaviour are forming a vicious cycle, perpetuating less and less civility on our streets. Road safety is now larger than just a city or infrastructure problem: it’s also a public health issue.

In 2018, the city of Toronto experienced its worst year in terms of the number of injuries and fatalities on the streets: 42 pedestrians and 5 cyclists were killed or seriously injured in a collision with a motor vehicle and 13 drivers were killed or seriously injured due to aggressive or distracted driving.

While there is important work underway at the municipal level with Vision Zero 2.0, a majority of GTA residents admit they are simply not familiar enough with what the city is doing to prioritize road safety. In fact, 51 per cent of cyclists (up three per cent from 2018), 20 per cent of drivers and 19 per cent of pedestrians still feel unsafe on the streets of the GTA. Even more telling among cyclists age 18 and older, 57 percent feel unsafe (up 9 per cent from 2018).

“The street safety issue in our city is not getting any better – it has gotten much worse. The grim numbers in 2019 to-date have proved that,” says Donna Ince, Senior Vice President for Personal Insurance at RSA Canada. “We must all take accountability for the role we’ve played in the deteriorating climate of our streets – and our communities. It’s on all of us to commit to reducing the rage on the streets and put an end to this crisis once and for all.”

Less anxiety and stress on the road helps to support ongoing efforts to make Toronto’s streets safer and enables road users to react in a timely, informed and calm manner. Improvements in road safety overall constitute an important aspect of making our cities healthier.

TruceTO’s goal is to amplify understanding of the important work being carried out by the city, by independent organizations, and at the federal level, and encourage GTA residents to make a personal commitment to change, to play their part in making our streets safer and more civil for all.

Overall, year over year it’s clear – the increasing rate of road rage, lack of education and empathy, and low awareness on the roads remains at the core of the issue.

Additional findings from the TruceTO survey include:

  • Breaking the rules:
    • Drivers (75 per cent), pedestrians (67 per cent) and cyclists (72 per cent) in the GTA all agree that drivers not following the rules constitute one of the greatest causes of distress on the road
  • Whose right of way is it?
    • 53 per cent (up three per cent from 2018) of pedestrians, 49 per cent of drivers, and 40 per cent of cyclists don’t always know when cyclists have the right of way
    • Only 60 per cent of cyclists use hand signals consistently
  • Too close for comfort:
    • 45 per cent of drivers, 44 per cent of pedestrians and 63 per cent of cyclists have been in a collision or know someone who has

The survey also revealed that 84 per cent of respondents claim to have made a major behavioural change in the past few years such as drinking more water (30 per cent) or changing their sleep patterns (25 per cent), but only four per cent indicated a desire to change their road behaviour, even though the latter is a clearly identified source of stress.

“People are willing to change for better physical health but are less likely to feel motivated to change when it comes to improving safety in their community,” adds Ince. “We need to change this mindset, because road safety is closely linked to improvements in overall physical and mental health. As providers of auto insurance, we have a vested interest in the wellbeing of our customers on and off the road.”

Here are a few solutions to help make our streets safer for all:

  • Education
  • Empathy
    • Human error is inevitable, but responding with empathy can prevent unnecessary escalation and perpetuation of bad road behaviour
    • Slowing down, staying focused and keeping emotions in check can all help reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on GTA’s streets
  • Embracing change
    • Ultimately, there is no doubt that our streets need to be redesigned to properly accommodate drivers, cyclists and pedestrians equally
    • Some of this work is underway, with reduced speed limits, crosswalks and red lights
  • Ease your stress
    • High stress only makes us slower to respond: each of us needs to take action to help improve our overall physical and mental health
    • Just as we hydrate and strive for more sleep, we need to improve our overall health by addressing the stress we feel when commuting – through education and empathy

To learn more about TruceTO, test your road safety knowledge and take the pledge to be a better road user, visit www.truceto.com. TruceTO aligns with RSA’s ambition of Making Life Better Together and supports its Corporate Responsibility Safe, Secure World pillar, which focuses on safeguarding their customers from everyday risks. To learn more about RSA Canada’s corporate social responsibility, visit https://www.rsagroup.ca/about-us/corporate-responsibility/our-corporate-responsibility-journey.

About the 2019 TruceTO survey:
TripleScoop Premium Market Research is an independent full-service research agency with deep roots in the pioneering development of online research methods. An online survey of 1,305 Canadians who are 16 years or older, live and/or work in the Greater Toronto Area and regularly use the city streets as pedestrians, cyclists and/or drivers, was completed between May 3-15, 2019, using AskingCanadians’ online panel. AskingCanadians’ online panel has more than one million members nationally, the leading online data collection firm in Canada, and the first one to implement TrueSample for powerful identity validation, de-duplication and engagement modeling that ensures survey respondents are real, unique and engaged. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.7%, 19 times out of 20.

About RSA:
With a 300-year heritage, RSA is a multinational quoted insurance group. Focusing on general insurance, RSA’s core markets are the UK & Ireland, Scandinavia and Canada, with the capability to write insurance business across the globe.  RSA’s core businesses have approximately 13,500 employees with net written premiums of £6.3bn in 2016.

About RSA Canada:
The RSA Canada group of companies includes Roins Financial Services Limited, Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada, Quebec Assurance Company, Johnson Inc., Unifund Assurance Company, Western Assurance Company, Ascentus Insurance Ltd., Canadian Northern Shield Insurance Company and RSA Travel Insurance Inc. (collectively, “RSA Canada”) and is part of a group of companies headed by RSA Insurance Group Plc. RSA Canada employs more than 3,000 people across Canada and is one of the oldest insurance companies in the country with roots dating back to 1833.
©2016 Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada. All rights reserved. RSA, RSA & Design and related words and logos are trademarks and the property of RSA Insurance Group plc, licensed for use by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada. RSA is a trade name of Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada.

SOURCE RSA Canada

Ignoring Your Own Safety #DriveSmartBC

 

SeatbeltWhen I learned to drive more than 4 decades ago, seatbelts were becoming standard equipment on all vehicles. Fast forward to today and we have seatbelts, multiple airbags and a host of automatic systems designed to either avoid a crash or minimize the damage to us if we are in one. Why then do some of us ignore the systems that are there for our protection?

A decade ago seatbelt use rates were about 97% for drivers of cars or light trucks in B.C. according to Transport Canada. That said, one does not have to sit for very long today watching traffic pass in urban areas to find drivers who do not buckle up. Why ignore what is probably the simplest and most effective device in your vehicle that helps you avoid injury?

Have you read your vehicle’s owners manual to learn about airbags and how they protect you in a collision? If you have you will realize that you must wear your seatbelt to avoid injury caused by being out of place if it deploys. You must also sit upright in your seat when the vehicle is being driven.

Yesterday I was filling my fuel tank and watching the passenger in the vehicle beside me. She had her feet up on the dash and remained that way when her friend finished fueling and drove away. I shudder to think of what would happen to her if that airbag deployed.

If you buy a new vehicle today you will find that it can be equipped with many safety systems such as automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning. Remember that owners manual? There will be some study required to learn how they work, how you should use them and when they cannot protect you.

The sensors for these systems require regular maintenance by the driver to keep them functional. Be sure to read your owners manual or at least have the dealership demonstrate what needs to be done before you drive off the lot.

Vehicle computers store data about faults. If fault codes are stored for malfunctioning safety systems it is conceivable that you could bear some responsibility for injuries sustained in a crash. Ignoring these new safety systems could also place you in a bad position post-collision.

Ignoring your own safety as a driver today may have many unintended consequences that can also extend to your passengers. RTFM (Refer to Factory Manual) might be the smartest (and safest) thing that you can do!

If you drive distracted, you could miss out on life

If you drive distracted, you could miss out on life

SGI launches campaign with a clear message: “Distracted driving kills”

Kailynn Bursic-Panchuk was preoccupied with her cellphone when she drove into the path of a train; the resulting collision was catastrophic and left the Weyburn teenager in critical condition.

Kailynn’s tragic story is a part of SGI’s latest distracted driving awareness campaign that launches this weekend, coinciding with the June Traffic Safety Spotlight on distracted driving.

“When we got to the hospital and the doctor told me Kailynn needed surgery to relieve the pressure on her brain, I was lost. This is supposed to happen in movies, not in real life,” said Kailynn’s mom, Sandra LaRose.

Kailynn’s injuries would prove fatal – five days later her family made the difficult decision to take her off life support. Kailynn had just turned 17 years old.

SGI’s poignant campaign has a clear message: distracted driving kills – don’t miss out on life. The campaign features a 60-second video that shows a young woman dreaming of her life ahead and milestone moments. Those dreams are followed by the nightmare of a head-on collision caused by a distracted driver. Kailynn’s photo and a brief narration by LaRose conclude the video.

“I hope this province-wide campaign will help make the consequences of distracted driving more real to people,” said Minister Responsible for SGI Joe Hargrave. “I am grateful to Sandra for sharing her voice and her daughter’s tragic story, and hopeful it will encourage people to avoid all distractions while they drive, including their phones. There should never be another story like Kailynn’s.”

The ad will run online, in cinemas and on television. The campaign will also feature newspaper, radio and billboard advertising. Beginning in July, there will be shorter online videos focusing on common distracted driving behaviours, along with matching radio spots that will run all year. Visit www.sgi.sk.ca/distracted-driving-kills to see the campaign.

For Sandra LaRose, the tragic, preventable death of her daughter has spurred her to speak out about the issue of distracted driving.

“Hopefully people will realize that phone call is not important, that notification is not important, that music is not important; it will wait,” said LaRose. “Life will still go on if you don’t take that call. It’s literally a split second – that’s all it takes. You have control over that object – put your phone away.”

Driver distraction or inattention is the leading cause of collisions and injury on Saskatchewan roads, and one of the leading factors in fatal collisions. In 2017, 26 people died and 953 were injured in distracted driving collisions in Saskatchewan.

 

Have an a – May-zing – and safe – long weekend with SGI’s road trip tips

Have an a – May-zing – and safe – long weekend with SGI’s road trip tips

May long weekend is almost here and you know what that means – commence Summer Mode.

Okay, yes, we know summer officially starts next month, but we only get a few weeks of really fine weather, and as far as we’re concerned, summer is a state of mind.

Summer Mode means cleaning the house takes a backseat to chilling on the deck.  Pressing pause on the diet, because a chicken breast on spinach can’t compare to a barbecued burger with a side of potato salad.

While everything feels a little more relaxed in the summer, what remains the same are your responsibilities behind the wheel. Highways get busy on long weekends, and the chance of a collision doubles.

Some things to keep in mind if your May Long plans involve driving:

Don’t drive impaired – Whether you’re headed out to the lake for the first time this year, or just having a couple of drinks now that your local spot’s patio is open, make sure you plan a safe, sober ride home. Don’t let one bad decision change your life forever. And, be a good wingman for your friends and family – make sure they make it home safe too.

Don’t speed – The summer has just begun, so no need to speed – we’re relaxing, remember? If you speed, you could face fines, demerits, impoundments, and even criminal charges depending on the severity of the offence. Obey the posted speed limits, and enjoy the drive. Let’s not make May Madness a thing, okay?

Avoid distractions – Now that you’re in Summer Mode, it’s time for new summer jams. But, create your new road tripping playlist before you head out – or hey, maybe let your co-pilot pick a song every once in a while. The road needs your full attention, so leave your phone alone. Police are looking for distracted drivers, and a $280 fine and 4 demerits will really put a damper on your road-karaoke session.

#EmbraceTheZipperMerge – If your route takes you through a construction zone, reduce your speed to the posted speed limits (60 km/h on the highway), and use the zipper merge  to handle lane closures. Zipper merging allows drivers to use both lanes until the closing lane ends, then alternate in a ‘zipper’ fashion into the open lane, making traffic flow more quickly and efficiently. Still not sure how to zipper merge?  Check out the handy video on this page. (When a driver lets you in, don’t forget your courtesy wave.)

Buckle up – Always wear a seatbelt and make sure your passengers do too. You’re 17 times more likely to be ejected from your vehicle in a collision if you’re not wearing a seatbelt and you’re more than twice as likely to die if you’re ejected. If that doesn’t make it click for you, maybe this real-life account from seatbelt survivor Josh Campbell will.

Stay alert – All those summer plans can seem like a lot after a winter of hibernation. Make sure you’re well-rested before hitting the road, and split the driving with other passengers if your travels take you far.

Bonus tip: For some folks, Summer Mode means pulling out their motorcycle. If you’re riding, wear the proper gear to save your skin, and watch for potholes and loose gravel.  Drivers, share the road with motorcycles and check twice before changing lanes or turning – once for cars and trucks, then again for motorcycles and bikes.

From all of us at SGI, enjoy your long weekend. And take care out there.

Road Trip Checklist For This Long Weekend

Road Trip Checklist For This Long Weekend

By Jeff Youngs | JD Powers

Before setting off on a road trip, it is important to make sure that your vehicle is ready for a long journey, especially if your route passes through lightly populated areas off of the Interstate. Checking your vehicle’s basic functions and systems before departure can help to ensure a safe and smooth road trip.

  • Check the brakes. Your vehicle’s brakes are a critical component for any drive, whether heading across town or across the country. Make sure your car’s brakes are in good condition before your trip.
  • Check the tires. In addition to making sure you have a spare tire with you (unless your car has run-flat tires), be sure to inflate all tires, including the spare, to the recommended tire pressure before departure. Also, check for uneven tread wear, which indicates that an alignment or replacement tires might be necessary.
  • Check the lights and signals. Make sure your headlights, tail lights, brake lights and turn signals work properly.
  • Check the wiper blades and washer fluid. A new set of wiper blades is a good investment before any road trip. Also, be sure to top off your washer fluid before hitting the highway.
  • Check the engine coolant. If your engine coolant is old, it’s a good idea to replace it with new coolant. Be sure that your car is ready for extreme heat or extreme cold, depending on where you’re going and the time of year.
  • Check the fans, belts and hoses. Your car’s engine fan, belts and hoses are critical for engine cooling, so be sure they’re in good condition before your trip.
  • Check the battery. It’s easy to have your battery tested to make sure it’s ready for a road trip. If your battery is more than 3 years old, get it checked before departure.
  • Check the fluids. Make sure your car’s fluids are in good condition and are topped off. This includes the oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and the power steering fluid.
  • Bring basic tools. Make sure all of your vehicle’s tire-change tools are present and accounted for. Additionally, it’s not a bad idea to bring a basic set of tools that could help fix a minor problem during the trip.
  • Bring emergency provisions. Even if you perform every task on this road trip checklist, you could become stranded with a disabled vehicle. You will want to have emergency provisions aboard just in case this happens. Food and water are critical, but depending on the weather, you will also want appropriate clothing and accessories, like sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat for hot sunny areas or a blanket for cold regions.
ICBC’s top tips for a safe long weekend road trip

ICBC’s top tips for a safe long weekend road trip

As drivers hit the road this Victoria Day long weekend, police will be conducting a province-wide enforcement blitz to target speeders as part of a month-long campaign.

Over the Victoria Day long weekend, 540 people were injured in 2,300 crashes in B.C. in 2017.*

In a recent survey conducted by Ipsos for ICBC (April 2019), almost three-quarters (72 per cent) of respondents said they’ve been concerned for their safety as a passenger in a vehicle they considered to be speeding. And as drivers, 46 per cent said their top concern of possible consequences from speeding was injuring a passenger.

With speed the number one cause of car crash fatalities in B.C., it’s no wonder people are concerned. As you’re traveling with family and friends this long weekend, remember to slow down and speak up if you feel uncomfortable.

Speeding increases your risk of crashing. That’s why ICBC, police and Speed Watch volunteers are urging drivers to slow down. When you slow down, you see more of the road and have more time to react.

ICBC’s top tips for a safe long weekend road trip:

  • Plan your route and check road conditions at drivebc.ca before you leave.

  • Don’t speed up as someone is trying to pass you. Help the other driver get back into your lane by slowing down and making room.

  • Be realistic about travel times. Don’t rush to make up time – slow down to reduce your risk of crashing and arrive at your destination safely.

  • Make a game of looking for motorcycles. Have each passenger guess how many motorcycles you’ll see during the drive and then count them as you go. It’s a great way to teach young drivers to look for motorcyclists.

  • Stay focused and avoid distractions that take your mind off driving and your eyes off the road. Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of crashes so remember to leave your phone alone.

Regional statistics*:

  • Over the Victoria Day long weekend, 390 people were injured in 1,500 crashes throughout the Lower Mainland in 2017.

  • Over the Victoria Day long weekend, 61 people were injured in 352 crashes on Vancouver Island in 2017.

  • Over the Victoria Day long weekend, 69 people were injured in 350 crashes throughout the Southern Interior in 2017.

  • Over the Victoria Day long weekend, 16 people were injured in 120 crashes throughout the North Central region in 2017.

*Victoria Day long weekend is calculated from 18:00 the Friday prior to Victoria Day to midnight Monday. Injured victims and crashes from 2017 ICBC data.

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