Ontario drivers say they aren’t feeling as safe as they used to on highways, and they’re seeing more dangerous driving behaviours on the roads.
A new study by DIG Insights on behalf of CAA South Central Ontario (CAA SCO) indicates that 98 per cent of Ontario drivers witnessed unsafe driving behaviours in the past year – up three per cent last year. This increase in unsafe driving behaviours could also explain why six per cent fewer drivers are feeling safe on our roads, specifically on highways with speed limits of 100 km/h.
“Ontario police services continue to report significant amounts of speeding, stunt and aggressive driving. Although the pandemic amplified the awareness, the issue was growing well before that,” says Michael Stewart, community relations consultant, Government and Community Relations, CAA SCO.
About half of respondents point to speeding as a big problem in Ontario which is no surprise considering the most common behaviour seen was speeding, followed by aggressive driving, unsafely changing lanes and distracted driving.
“Traffic returning to pre-pandemic levels could be the reason why we’re seeing this increase in unsafe driving,” says Stewart.
“Some drivers even admit to doing it themselves.”
In total, 58 per cent admitted to engaging in dangerous driving behaviours. Forty-three per cent of Ontario drivers admitted to speeding, 17 per cent say they’ve driven distracted, eight per cent say they’ve made unsafe lane changes and six per cent have driven aggressively.
Most of the time, these behaviours are witnessed on higher-speed highways, says Stewart.
“It can be nerve-wracking when you come across a driver who is behaving this way,” he says.
“If you do come across a speeding or aggressive driver, the best thing you can do is stay calm, focus on your driving and do not engage with the other driver.
“If possible, drivers should safely pull over and call 911 if someone is driving erratically or you believe their behaviour could be an immediate danger to others.”
The rise in speeding and stunt driving prompted the Ontario government to introduce tougher fines and penalties in 2021, called Moving Ontarians More Safely Act.
While most drivers say they believe photo radar helps deter speeding and that photo radar should be in school zones and community safety zones, one in three Ontario drivers say they try to avoid roads that have photo radar, and 43 per cent say they accelerate after passing a photo radar camera.
“Drivers need to be mindful of driving to the posted speed limit, because speeding isn’t worth the risk of a collision, fine or penalty,” says Stewart.