Canada Road Safety Week began on May 14 and will run through the national holiday weekend, culminating on May 20, Victoria Day.
In Ontario, Canada’s most populated province, the Ontario Provincial Police (O.P.P.) will increase their presence on the roads. The Victoria Day weekend is a spring celebration, well-known for alcohol consumption, fireworks, and opening the cottage.
The dangers of drunk driving on the highway is well documented. Dangerous driving from seniors might be due to fatigue. They need to remember to pull over to the right side of the road. But, do they fall into the aggressive, intoxicated population that leads to highway fatalities?
“Sure, if we’re talking about 55 plus seniors they could very well be out driving intoxicated,” said Sergeant Dave Woodford of the Highway Safety Division operating out of the Greater Toronto Area.
“But, by and large, seniors are good drivers,” he said.
Aggressive drivers, distracted drivers, and intoxicated drivers crisscross the age spectrum and include older adults.
The O.P.P reports 5,700 distracted driving charges up till the Victoria Day weekend. It reports 30,000 annual charges for failing to wear seat belts, even though the province’s seat belt law was enacted in January, 1976.
Road Safety Week’s message goes out to all ages. The O.P.P. has partnered with the Canadian Association of Retired People – CARP – to create the Drive Wise program to help seniors with their age-related needs.
According to the Highway Safety Division, the top driving infringements that Canadian police look for, year-round, and especially on holiday weekends, are:
1. Failure to wear seat belts
2. Impaired driving
3. Aggressive driving and speeding
4. Distracted driving
Traffic Staff Sergeant Dave Mantey is from the Northwest Region centered from Thunder Bay, ON, stretching towards the Manitoba border. The O.P.P. veteran said he has an 89-year-old father who still drives.
“Everyone needs to follow the same rules regardless of age,” and he reminded drivers to leave ample space between vehicles.
The Northwest region is remote and densely forested. In this region, Mantey and his fellow officers apply different rules than in metropolitan areas. Seniors who drive need to be aware of animals that may stray on the highway. In winter, when the snow is high, they should increase the distance between vehicles.
Mantey asked that retired seniors consider staying at home in bad weather conditions rather than going out.
“If you don’t need to go out, stay home,” he said. “Whatever it is, it can wait.”
Old and young Canadians are looking forward to the long Victoria Day Weekend, to enjoy recreation on the roads, waterways, and back trails. Cars, boats, and off-road vehicles provide leisure and an opportunity to get away from city living.
The regulations keep everyone safe and try to protect against bad decisions leading to tragic ends.