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Fewer accidents = Fatalities down for the first three months of the year.

The following information was found in the Ottawa Citizen.  There has been a significant decline in the number of serious collisions and fatalities on highways the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) patrol during the first three months of 2009, OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino, said today.

A 5.5 percent decrease in the number of fatal collisions on OPP- patrolled highways from January to March of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008 resulted in 12 fewer deaths. In 2008, 322 people were killed on roads the OPP patrolled, down from 451 in 2007, a 29 per cent decline.

“We are making progress, and it seems the message is getting through to motorists,” Fantino said. “But we still have a long way to go. Unfortunately, the main causes of the serious collisions and fatalities are still speed, alcohol and people not wearing seatbelts. The good news is that alcohol-related fatalities are down from ten in the first three months of 2008 to just one so far this year. Speed-related fatalities in the same period are down from 24 a year ago to 17 this year.”

Under section 172 of the Highway Traffic Act, motorists who drive 50 kilometres or more over the posted limit or perform stunts have their vehicles impounded and their driver’s licence suspended for seven days on the spot.

Police have charged 11,437 motorists under the section since the law was enacted in September of 2007. Of that total, the OPP have laid 8,580 of the charges.

Even though the seatbelt laws have been in effect for more than 30 years, some people are still not buckling up. So far this year there have been 11 fatalities attributed to seatbelt non-compliance compared to 19 over the same period in 2008.

The OPP attribute the decrease in the number of crashes to the effective enforcement of new legislation, introduction of speed limiters on commercial vehicles, increased OPP visibility on highways and increased media attention.

These factors are part of a comprehensive Provincial Traffic Safety Program initiated by the OPP in 2007.

“We will continue to be vigilant and use all the tools available to us in our effort to keep the roads we patrol safe for all motorists,” said OPP Chief Superintendent Bill Grodzinski, Commander of the Highway Safety Division (HSD). “The OPP makes traffic safety a key priority for all officers, whether they are on traffic patrol or not. Our goal is ensure the number of serious collisions and fatalities continue to decline throughout the rest of the year.”

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RL, Ottawa Ontario