The Issue: Death on Canadian Roads

Every year about 2,000 Canadians are killed and 165,000 are injured while using our roads, costing society $37 billion (2.2% of Canadian GDP) annually. Although we have made considerable progress in recent years, there is still much work to be done. For example, Canada still has one of the highest motor vehicle fatality rates among high-income countries (at 5.2 per 100,000) (WHO, 2015, & Transport Canada, 2016) and transport-related injuries remain the number one cause of death for Canadian children under the age of 14 (Parachute, 2015).

Source: Transport Canada, 2016

Source: Transport Canada, 2016

Vulnerable Road Users

Vulnerable road users include pedestrians, riders of motorcycles and bicyclists. They are vulnerable by virtue of their lack of protection if struck by a vehicle. Between 2010 and 2014, 15% of fatalities have been pedestrians, while motorcyclists and bicyclists have accounted for 9% and 3% of fatalities respectively (Transport Canada, 2016). In total, vulnerable road users account for slightly more than a quarter of traffic fatalities in Canada.

Source: Transport Canada 2016

Source: Transport Canada 2016

Contributing Causes (speed, distracted driving, impairment)


Approximately 27% of fatalities and 19% of serious injuries on Canadian road involve speeding (Transport Canada, 2011). Between 2000 and 2012, teen and young adult drivers accounted for the majority of speed-related fatalities and these numbers are trending up. For example, in 2013, 38% of fatally injured drivers aged 16-19 were speeding; whereas, 43% of fatally injured drivers aged 20-34 were speeding (TIRF, 2016). This means over 80% of fatally injured drivers aged 16-34 were speeding in 2013.

Source: Traffic Injury Research Foundation 2016

Source: Traffic Injury Research Foundation 2016

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving fatalities have generally increased across all age groups from a low of 16.8% in 2000 to a high of 25% in 2013 (TIRF, 2016). In fact, distracted driving now exceeds impaired driving as a leading cause for driver fatalities in several jurisdictions across Canada. While distraction among teen drivers has received most of the attention, new research suggests that drivers aged 20-34 are most likely to be distracted in fatal crashes, followed by drivers aged 65 and older (TIRF 2016). 

Source: Traffic Injury Research Foundation 2016

Source: Traffic Injury Research Foundation 2016

Impaired driving

On average, approximately four Canadians are killed each day in crashes involving alcohol and/or drugs. In 2012, there were 2,546 crash deaths. Of those, 1,497 deaths, or 58.8%, involved drivers who had some alcohol and/or drug presence in their systems (MADD 2012). Between 2003 and 2013 fatally injured drivers aged 20-34 tested positive for alcohol more than any other age group. Drug impairment is also a concern for younger drivers. In 2012, 41.0% of fatally injured drivers aged 16-19 tested positive for drugs and these numbers appear to be on the rise (TIRF, 2015).


Source: Traffic Injury Research Foundation 2015


WHO Global Status Report on Road Safety, 2015.

Transport Canada and Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (2016). 2014 Canadian Motor Vehicle Collision Statistics.

Parachute. (2015). The Cost of Injury in Canada – Summary Report: Falls & Transport Injury Trends in Children 2004 and 2010. Parachute: Toronto, ON

Transport Canada and The Public Health Agency of Canada (2011). Road Safety in Canada.

Traffic Injury Research Foundation. (2016). The Role of Driver Age in Fatally Injured Drivers in Canada, 2000-2013. Ottawa, Ontario: Traffic Injury Research Foundation.

Traffic Injury Research Foundation. (2016). Distracted Driving: A National Action Plan. Ottawa, Ontario: Traffic Injury Research Foundation.

MAAD (2012). Total Crash Deaths Involving Alcohol and/or Drugs in Canada, by Jurisdiction: 2012.

Traffic Injury Research Foundation. (2015). Alcohol and Drug Use Among Fatally Injured Teen Drivers, 2000-2012. Ottawa, Ontario: Traffic Injury Research Foundation.