In 1 year, there have been 24 highway deaths in RCMP jurisdictions

The Mounties in Newfoundland and Labrador have released the numbers of people who have died in vehicle collisions this year so far.

Since January, 24 people have died in 18 collisions, and Staff Sgt. David Ossinger, head of RCMP traffic services in Newfoundland and Labrador, says many were preventable.

Some people were impaired. Others weren't wearing seatbelts. In some cases, police suspect the drivers were distracted, impaired or both. But there's no way to say for sure without a surviving witness.

"It takes a toll. I won't lie," said Ossinger.

"We try to remain impartial and professional at all times but there is a real human cost unfolding in front of us and knowing what we know — that nobody had to suffer injury or lose their life — does make it frustrating." It seems as though the message isn't getting through.

Here's some data released by the RCMP:

  • Thirteen people were not wearing a seatbelt.

  • Five drivers involved in fatal collisions were impaired by drugs or alcohol. Four of those drivers were killed as a result.

  • Fifty per cent of fatal collisions involved vehicles crossing the centre line (which could signal impaired driving, distracted driving or both).

Ossinger said it's an alarming trend that has remained relatively the same over the last five years.

"I remember each and every notification I've delivered in vivid detail. It's not something I care to ever repeat but it's part of our responsibility and we will do as many as are needed," he said.

As the Christmas season approaches, Ossinger wants the public to be aware of the stark realities of what can happen on roadways. The RCMP hopes the social media campaign using #SomeoneIsWaitingForYou sheds light on the human cost of vehicle accidents.

"It serves as a reminder that life is very special. It's very precious. It's not something to trifle with or throw away recklessly and I hope that that type of thinking can affect people's attitudes behind the wheel."

New signs have been added to the highways in the eastern, central and western regions of the province, the RCMP said, which keeps a tally of the number of dead due to highway crashes.

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary told CBC News there have been two fatalities as the result of vehicle collisions in its jurisdictions since the beginning of the year.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador