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Quebec police say 22 people died in road and off road crashes over two week period

August 8, 2023  By The Canadian Press

Aug. 8, 2023, Montreal, Que. – Twenty-two people died in crashes on the province’s roads and trails over the past two weeks, marking a particularly deadly summer holiday period, Quebec provincial police said Tuesday.

Police said there were 13 fatal road accidents, as well as four involving off-road vehicles during the two-week construction holiday, when construction workers and many other Quebecers have annual vacations.

In comparison, there were 11 fatal accidents resulting in 13 deaths during the same period last year. Ten of those accidents were on the road network, while one involved an off-road vehicle.

Lt. Ann Mathieu of the Quebec provincial police said the number of road deaths in the province has been creeping up. “We feel there’s an increase, so we’re trying to break that tendency,” she said in a phone interview.

The majority of crashes this year were caused by what Mathieu called “human behaviour,” including illegal passing, failure to yield and distracted driving.

She said speed is generally the biggest cause of crashes, though it played less of a role in the most recent holiday period.

Eighteen of this year’s deaths happened on the road, including three accidents involving motorcycles. The four off-road deaths all involved all-terrain vehicles, she said.

Mathieu said there were no fatal boat crashes either this year or last. A summary of drowning deaths, which aren’t included in Tuesday’s statistics, will be released later this year, she said.

Quebec’s two-week holiday for construction industry workers was made official in 1970 and results in a shutdown of most construction sites and a surge in traffic as workers and their families head out on vacation. This year’s holiday fell between July 21 and Aug. 6.

Mathieu said the numbers released Tuesday don’t include non-fatal crashes, which can still have “serious consequences” in terms of injury and trauma for drivers, passengers and families.

Quebec’s automobile insurance board reported that 392 people died on the province’s roads in 2022, which was 45 more than in 2011, and 13.2 per cent above the average for the previous five years. The number of injuries was also up slightly over the previous year, although they were below the five-year average.

The Quebec branch of the Canadian Automobile Association calls the period between June 24 and Labour Day the “75 deadliest days on the road” due to the high number of fatal collisions.

CAA-Quebec said in June that almost a third of all road deaths for the year occur during this time, when the numbers of cars on the road rise due to vacationing locals and tourists.

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