Motor Vehicle Collisions in Canada, February 2013

February 28, 2013—Traffic collisions resulting in hospitalizations are more common in the afternoon and evening, reveals new data released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).

In 2010–2011, 3,927 drivers were admitted to hospital between 4 p.m. and midnight after collisions on public roads, compared with 1,808 drivers admitted between midnight and 8 a.m., and 2,589 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. The numbers are consistent regardless of season or day of the week, according to CIHI. (These numbers do not include people who were treated in emergency departments and not admitted as inpatients.)

“Our results highlight a pattern that can inform traffic collision prevention efforts,” says Greg Webster, Director of Primary Health Care and Clinical Registries at CIHI. “We consistently see the number of hospital admissions from traffic collisions rise during the afternoon commute and into the evening. Although many factors contribute to a traffic collision, there is increased risk later in the day.”

There were more than 16,200 hospitalizations from collisions on public roads in 2010–2011. Half of the people injured in these collisions were drivers (51%), while 19% were passengers, 19% were pedestrians or cyclists, and 11% were other or unknown occupants. Over the past five years, an annual average of almost 500 people died in hospital from their injuries. And, across Canada, there are more than 2,000 deaths due to motor vehicle collisions each year.i

i. Data on total deaths from motor vehicle collisions as reported by Transport Canada.

Motorcycle collisions on the rise

Hospitalizations for drivers in car collisions have steadily declined over the past five years, while motorcycle collisions—mopeds and scooters included—are now sending more drivers to hospital, according to CIHI’s data.

In 2006–2007, one in five (20%) drivers hospitalized after a traffic collision on a public road was driving a motorcycle; the proportion was higher in 2010–2011, at one in four (25%). Over the same time period, the proportion of car drivers who were hospitalized after a collision on a public road decreased from 67% to 63%.

Off-road collisions sending fewer people to hospital

The number of motor vehicle collisions that occurred on non-public roads, such as trails and paths, also declined over this time period. There were slightly more than 6,000 people hospitalized following non-traffic (off-road) collisions in 2010–2011, compared with about 6,800 in 2006–2007.

Over the five-year period, collisions on non-public roads accounted for more than one-quarter (27%) of all motor vehicle hospitalizations in Canada. The majority (60%) of those collisions involved snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles.

Large variations exist between provinces and major cities

Across the country, the rate of hospitalizations from traffic collisions steadily decreased from 55 people per 100,000 in 2006–2007 to 43 people in 2010–2011. In 2010–2011, the rates varied from lows in Ontario and Nunavut to highs in Yukon and Saskatchewan.

Looking at major cities across Canada in 2010–2011, Toronto and Vancouver had the lowest rates of traffic injuries per 100,000 people. The highest rates were seen in Regina and St. John’s. Major cities in Quebec were not included as city data was unavailable for the province.

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