10 things we learned from Waterloo Region's collision report
Published Tuesday, March 7, 2017 2:40PM EST Last Updated Tuesday, March 7, 2017 6:41PM EST
The Region of Waterloo has released a report looking at collisions on regional roads over the course of 2016.
Here are 10 of the key takeaways.
The collision rate is decreasing: Fewer crashes were reported in 2016 than in any year since 2009 – and with population growth factored in, the collision rate is actually at its lowest level in at least 20 years.
By just about any measure, the region’s roads are getting safer: Fatal collisions are at their lowest level in 19 years, the collision rate involving cyclists is at a 20-year low, and collisions involving pedestrians occurred less often as well. There were no crashes reported involving horse-drawn buggies (every other year in the past decade had seen at least five).
Homer Watson and Block Line is as crash-prone as it gets: For years, Homer Watson Boulevard and Ottawa Street was considered the most collision-prone intersection, but only with an asterisk. Homer Watson and Block Line wasn’t included in the data because fewer than five years had elapsed since it switched from a traffic light to a roundabout.
It’s now been a roundabout for five full years, and we know that 435 collisions occurred over that period – compared to 215 at Erb Street and Ira Needles Boulevard/Erbsville Road, and 178 at Homer Watson and Ottawa.
Not all collisions are created equal: The region prefers not to rank intersections by the total number of crashes, but by “excess social cost” – a measure which assumes some intersections will see a certain number of collisions due to their design, traffic volumes or other factors, then places more weight on intersections which see collisions beyond that number, with collisions that result in injuries being considered much more significant than those which do not.
That’s why the region’s list of the ‘first 10 ranked vehicle collision locations’ ignores intersections like Erb/Ira Needles and Highland/Ira Needles, which are near the top of the list for number of collisions but typically don’t see people injured, and includes intersections with fewer crashes but more severe ones, such as Hespeler/Bishop and Franklin/Saginaw.
It hasn’t been a seamless transition on Franklin Boulevard: Six roundabouts opened along Franklin in either late 2015 or 2016. By December 2016, 170 collisions had been reported at those roundabouts, including 12 in which at least one person was injured.
Collision patterns are generally consistent from year to year: Seven of the region’s top 10 collision locations in 2014 returned to the list in 2016. Added to the list were Homer Watson/Block Line (only left off in 2014 because of the change to a roundabout), as well as Fairway/Wilson and the stretch of Eagle Street between Hespeler and Industrial. Displaced were Franklin/Pinebush (not included because of the switch to a roundabout), Ottawa/Fischer-Hallman, and King/Fountain.
There’s something about Thursdays: Fridays have traditionally been the worst day for crashes in Waterloo Region, as they are in many jurisdictions, but Thursday took the crown in 2016.
Other leading behaviours are still predictable: The 5 p.m. hour remains the most common time of day for collisions to occur, rear-end collisions remain the most common type of crash, and following too closely is still the driver behaviour most often blamed for collisions.
Alcohol-related crashes are worth keeping an eye on: One year does not make a trend, but alcohol was considered a factor in 1.7 per cent of collisions in 2016, up from 1.3 per cent the year before and reversing a lengthy downward trend.
We’ll be hearing more about the most collision-prone locations: In September, regional councillors will get another report detailing ways that collision rates could be reduced at some of the most collision-prone intersections and stretches of road for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.