The SAAQ believes the decrease in traffic during the pandemic led some to drive more recklessly, at higher speeds or without their seatbelts.
Quebec saw a significant drop in road accidents in 2020, but an increase in the number of deaths, according to statistics compiled by the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec.
Restrictions related to travel, confinement and the closing of offices and businesses had a big impact on traffic in 2020. The largest decreases in accidents happened in March, April and May, during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Overall in 2020, there were 24,471 people involved in accidents on Quebec roads, a drop of 30.3 per cent compared to 2019. Injuries decreased 31.3 per cent and serious injuries dropped by 12.4 per cent.
But despite the drop in traffic and fewer accidents, the number of deaths actually went up. The SAAQ believes the decrease in traffic led some to drive more recklessly, at higher speeds or without their seatbelts. The 340 deaths on the road are nine more than in 2019.
In a statement released with the report on Wednesday, the SAAQ notes that from March to September, “the proportion of fatal or serious accidents for which speed was identified as a contributing factor went from 27.1 per cent over the last five years to almost 32 per cent in 2020.”