Less traffic in past year leads to drop in crashes

·2 min read

The number of serious crashes in Chatham-Kent has dropped significantly during the past year.

In a Police Services Board presentation of the department’s annual report, it was revealed that fatal collisions dropped from 12 in 2019 to eight last year. Life-threatening collisions also saw a decrease of more than 50 percent, with only eight incidents compared to 19.

According to Acting Sgt. Jason Herder, of the eight fatal crashes in 2020, four were alcohol-related. Police are still waiting for toxicology results for one collision. In four of the crashes, the drivers weren’t wearing a seatbelt, and one collision was deemed to be medical. Herder said some of the crashes involved a combination of alcohol and a failure to wear a seatbelt.

Herder added the fact people are driving less in recent months due to COVID-19 which had impacted collision statistics. He added there was a 37 percent reduction in crash reports to the collision reporting centre. Officer-reported collisions dropped by 28 percent.

“The easiest explanation for these numbers is related back to the COVID-19 pandemic and reduction in motor-vehicle travel on our roadways,” said Herder. “The months of April and May had a drastic reduction, and if you look at where we were provincially, the stay-at-home order was in place.”

Despite the reduction in serious crashes, there were 28 RIDE programs held last year, compared to 68 in 2019. There were 3,432 vehicles stopped, compared to 7,117. One criminal charge was laid as a result of the program, while 16 were laid the previous year.

However, Herder said with fewer vehicles on the road, the Traffic Unit did notice an uptick in higher speeds and more aggressive drivers.

“As always, the goal for the Traffic Management Unit is to make our roadways the safest in Ontario and ask motorists to do their part,” said Herder.

Also included in the report were the top Chatham-Kent intersections for crashes in 2020.

Fourteen crashes last year took place at the intersection of Keil Drive and Richmond Street, followed by the intersection of McNaughton Avenue and Reaume Avenue in Wallaceburg with 13. Grand Avenue West and Keil Drive North were also up on the list of Chatham-Kent’s most dangerous intersections with 12 crashes. An additional 10 crashes were at Lacroix Street and Richmond Street.

Police said the aim of that tally is to target resources, such as education and enforcement, where they are required most.

Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News