Since the Ontario government halted all non-essential travel and services in March, there are fewer vehicles and less traffic on our highways and streets. As most people stay at home, there has been a dramatic drop in the number of collisions. However, this does not necessarily mean our roads are safe and accident-free. The GTA has seen a startling increase in speeding and stunt driving since the beginning of the pandemic as drivers take full advantage of these newly empty roads.
Between March 23 and April 27, more than 6,900 speeding tickets have been handed out, compared to 5,537 in 2019. Even more alarming, there were 222 stunt driving incidents in Toronto from March 23 to April 27. There were 32 incidents during the same time last year. That’s an increase of close to 600 per cent!
Recently, a driver was seen performing donuts at the intersection of Yonge and Dundas as bystanders watched and some filmed in close (and dangerous) proximity. The stunt driver now faces several charges in relation to this incident.
In response, police services across the GTA are making these offences a high priority to ensure the safety of our streets for pedestrians, cyclists, and those people who are driving to work or leaving the home for essential items. The reduction in collision investigations has allowed officers to engage in traffic enforcement more so now than they were able to do so previously. To deter dangerous drivers, officers from the Vision Zero Enforcement Team will start rotating in daily shifts across the city to catch speeders and stunt drivers.
“Taking advantage of low traffic volumes by speeding or stunt driving is not only illegal but threatens the lives of those around you and places an unnecessary pressure on our healthcare system”, said Toronto Mayor John Tory in a news release.
The Risks of Dangerous Driving
Excessive speeding and stunt driving are key contributors in motor vehicle accidents, influencing both the risk of the accident and the severity of the injuries.
Studies show that the risk of a fatality or serious injury is almost five times greater for vehicles crashing at 50 km/m or more above the posted limit of 100 km/h. The increase in risk is even greater on roads with lower posted limits. For example, on roads with a posted limit of 60 km/h or less, the risk of a fatality or serious injury is almost eight times greater for vehicles colliding at 50 km/h or more above the posted limit.
The relationship between speed and injury severity is particularly critical for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists.
Common dangerous driving injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Back and neck injuries
- Whiplash injuries
Dangerous Driving Lawsuits
As mentioned above, motor vehicle accidents where high speeds were involved, such as stunt driving, often lead to more serious and permanent injuries and a greater likelihood of fatality. As a result, these accidents are more likely to allow an injured party to sue an at-fault party for pain and suffering and other pecuniary damages.
An injured party can sue an at-fault party for pain and suffering and certain pecuniary damages only where the crash results in death or a permanent and serious injury causing disfigurement or impairment of an important physical, mental, or psychological function.
Dangerous Driving and Insurance
Speeding and stunt driving can also affect your auto insurance rates. The degree of impact will depend on the infraction and insurance company. A single minor speeding ticket might not have an impact on your insurance coverage, but repeated minor speeding tickets in a short period of time or a major speeding ticket could put your premiums and coverage at risk. High risk drivers can expect to pay higher premiums or an insurance company can refuse to insure them at all.
With summer (and dryer roads) approaching, the rise of excessive speeding and stunt driving will only continue. At the same time, there will be more people walking or cycling to stay active during the pandemic. If you see an incident of stunt driving, please call 911 immediately and try to move yourself out of harm’s way. Taking a video to post on social media is not worth the risk of getting badly injured by remaining too close to these law breakers. Drivers must obey the rules of the road to save lives and reduce the strain on our healthcare system during COVID-19.