Bad Drivers, not Weather, to Blame for Most Ottawa Crashes: Report

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From 2007 to 2011, 48,000 collisions or 62% occurred on dry Ottawa roadways. Crashes last year were more likely to take place on a Friday than any other day of the week.

Ottawa drivers can’t blame weather woes for their motoring mishaps.

The solid majority of the 15,295 reported collisions in the city last year were in dry road conditions, according to city statistics.

And those 9,758 crashes — 63% — are more than triple the number of collisions than the second-closest culprit: Wet roads.

Losing control along dry roads wasn’t just a phenomenon last year. It has been that way for at least five years, according to the 2011 Ottawa Road Safety Report, set to go before the Ottawa Police Services Board Monday.

“In bad weather, people are more careful or don’t drive,” said longtime local driving instructor Ray Frendo.

“In good weather, people drive fast and they’re not paying attention.”

Frendo says some might suspect wintertime would see more cars slipping and sliding into each other, but that’s not the case. Roads were icy in only 564 crashes last year, while packed snow led to 312 collisions.

Gravel, notorious for its slippage, led to just 31 crashes.

“When the weather is good and sunny, everyone’s out driving, people are texting, there’s too many distractions these days and then kaboom,” said Frendo, who has taught countless people there are no such things as car accidents.

“Most crashes happen on dry roads, with good weather and good visibility.”

Distractions, such as talking or texting behind the wheel, tailgating and speeding are three major contributors to car crashes, according to Frendo.

From 2007 to 2011, 48,000 collisions or 62% occurred on dry Ottawa roadways.

Crashes last year were more likely to take place on a Friday than any other day of the week.

This also does not surprise Frendo, who believes everything from fatigue to temperament to thinking of to-do lists can affect driving behaviour, which may explain motoring mishaps at the end of a long week at work.

“They just want to get home,” said Frendo.

Drivers underestimate the time they will need to stop their cars when it comes to wet or slippery roads, said Frendo, but if they took the approach in good conditions, there would likely far fewer crashes.

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