February 08, 2018

Signs of Progress: Historically Low Number of Traffic Deaths in 2017

In 2017 Saskatchewan recorded the lowest number of traffic fatalities in more than six decades.

There were 102* deaths on Saskatchewan roads last year, a notable improvement from the 125 deaths in 2016 and the yearly average of 145 deaths in the previous decade (2007-2016).

The last time Saskatchewan recorded fewer traffic deaths was in 1954, when 74 people were killed. For context, there were less than one-third the number of registered vehicles in the province as there are today.

“We need to remember that traffic fatality statistics are so much more than numbers; each one was a real person who died needlessly, leaving behind a devastated family and loved ones,” Minister Responsible for SGI Joe Hargrave said. “It’s terrible that the families of 102 people had to deal with a tragic loss last year. The fact that we saw 23 fewer deaths than the year before is an encouraging sign. The credit for this improvement has to go to every single person in Saskatchewan who has made the choice to drive more safely.”

Historically, impaired driving, distracted driving, speed, and lack of a seatbelt or occupant restraint are the top contributing factors in vehicle deaths.

The number of traffic deaths does fluctuate year-to-year, but fatalities have gradually been trending downward after peaking in the 1960s and 1970s (the all-time high was 306 in 1974), thanks to improvements in traffic laws, safer road infrastructure, driver education, more focused law enforcement and safer vehicles. In 2012, however, the number of traffic deaths spiked back up to 183, prompting the formation of a Special Committee on Traffic Safety. The recommendations from that committee resulted in a number of traffic safety initiatives and new legislation aimed at saving lives on Saskatchewan roads.

While a significant reduction in the number of people killed or injured in traffic collisions is welcome news and a great start, one thing is clear: there is still a long way to go to achieve Saskatchewan’s goal of having the safest roads in Canada.

 “Each of us can contribute to making our roads safer by planning ahead and taking simple actions behind the wheel,” Hargrave said.