CALL NOW 905-333-8888



5 Top Causes of Car Accidents in Ontario

By Matt Lalande in 5 on the Fly, Car Accidents, Hamilton Personal Injury Lawyer on July 29, 2023

5 Top Causes of Car Accidents in Ontario

As Hamilton car accident lawyers, we try to stay on top of certain statistics – one of which is annual reported accident statistics in Ontario (and Canada) put out by various government and institutional organizations such as Transport Canada, Statistics Canada, Canadian Motor Vehicle Traffic Collision Statistics, Provincial Transportation Departments, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) and the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF).

Driving in Hamilton, or throughout Ontario, like anywhere else, carries its risks. Understanding these risks is the first step towards prevention and safer roads for everyone. The top five causes of car accidents in Ontario are distracted driving, speeding, impaired driving (alcohol and drugs), reckless driving, and ignoring traffic signals. Each of these causes represents a significant threat to road safety, often leading to severe life-changing injuries can profoundly alter an individual’s life journey, severely decrease one’s quality of life and force one to redefine life goals, careers and overall lifestyle.

The 5 Causes of Car Accidents in Ontario

1. Distracted Driving

Distracted Driving is a leading cause of car accidents not only in Ontario or Canada but globally. A distraction is anything that diverts the driver’s attention from the primary tasks of navigating the vehicle and responding to critical events. To understand the magnitude and impact of distracted driving, it’s essential to grasp the basics of reaction time, particularly in a driving context.

Reaction time consists of the time it takes to perceive a hazard and the time it takes to respond to it. According to various sources, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the U.S., the average time to perceive a threat is 1.5 seconds, and the average response time (the time it takes to brake or steer away from the hazard) is approximately 1 to 1.5 seconds.

Now consider this in the context of distracted driving. If a driver traveling at a speed of 100 kilometers per hour (approximately 62 miles per hour) takes their eyes off the road for just 5 seconds (a typical length of time to read or send a text), they will have traveled over 138 meters (roughly 453 feet) blind! That’s approximately the length of one and a half football fields.

When it comes to car accidents, these numbers are significant. According to the Traffic Injury Research Foundation in Canada, approximately 1 in 4 fatal crashes involve some form of distraction. Even more alarmingly, studies by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute have found that text messaging increases the risk of a crash or near-crash event by 23 times as compared to non-distracted driving.

Therefore, the impact of distractions on driving cannot be overstated. With the rise of smartphone use, in-car entertainment systems, and other potential distractions, the challenge continues to grow. It’s critical that drivers understand these risks and take necessary steps to ensure their attention remains on the road. That’s why so many safety campaigns emphasize that even a moment’s distraction can lead to car accidents, many of which have tragic consequences.

2. Speeding

Speeding is a significant factor contributing to car accidents across Ontario. While it might save a few minutes of travel time, speeding greatly increases the chance of an accident, endangering all road users.

Age and sex can play a role in speeding behaviors. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, young males are more likely to engage in this risky behavior. In a 2018 survey, approximately 52% of male drivers aged 15-20 who were involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the accident.

There are various reasons why people speed. Some drivers might be running late, others may feel pressured by other fast-moving traffic, while some simply enjoy the thrill of driving fast. However, the dangers of speeding are severe. Speeding reduces a driver’s ability to steer safely around bends or objects in the roadway, extends the stopping distance, and increases the distance a vehicle travels while the driver reacts to a hazard.

Let’s explore the specifics of how speeding can lead to a car accident. Firstly, the faster a vehicle is moving, the less time the driver has to react to unexpected situations. For instance, if a pedestrian steps out onto the road or a car ahead suddenly brakes, a speeding driver has a smaller window to respond appropriately.

Secondly, high speed impacts the vehicle’s ability to navigate turns or bends in the road. A vehicle moving at high speed has a higher tendency to skid or rollover when making sudden turns. Lastly, speeding significantly increases the severity of a crash. The faster a vehicle is moving, the more kinetic energy it has. When a crash occurs, this energy is released in a fraction of a second, leading to more severe injuries and damage.

Speeding is a prevalent cause of car accidents that can be easily avoided. Driving at a safe speed gives motorists more time to perceive and react to unexpected situations, reducing the likelihood and severity of accidents. It’s crucial for drivers of all ages and genders to recognize these risks and drive responsibly to ensure the safety of all road users.

3. Impaired Driving

Impaired Driving – despite considerable declines over the past 25 to 30 years, impaired driving, whether by alcohol or drugs, continues to kill or injure more Canadians than any other crime (Moreau, 2021). Public Safety Canada reported data for 2020 which indicated that in all of Canada, there were slightly more than 77,600 impaired driving incidents, a decrease of over 8,200 incidents from 2019 (Statistics Canada, 2021).

Impaired driving, involving both alcohol and drugs, continues to be a significant issue in Ontario and a leading cause of fatal road crashes. Although public awareness campaigns have made strides in driving down drunk driving rates, the legalization of recreational cannabis in 2018 has introduced a new dimension to the problem.

According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, nearly 7% of Ontario drivers reported driving after cannabis use in 2019. This is alarming given that cannabis can impair critical driving skills such as reaction time, decision-making ability, and motor coordination.

Alcohol-impaired driving also remains a serious concern. A 2019 study from Statistics Canada showed that police reported over 12,000 impaired driving incidents in Ontario alone.

Impaired driving poses a substantial risk not just to the driver but to everyone else on the road. Alcohol and drugs affect the central nervous system, impairing abilities necessary for safe driving. These substances can slow reaction time, reduce motor coordination, blur vision, and impair judgement of distance.

When a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they’re more likely to underestimate their level of impairment and overestimate their driving skills, leading to risky behaviors such as speeding, not wearing seat belts, or making illegal maneuvers. Additionally, alcohol and certain drugs can induce drowsiness, making it dangerous if the driver is on a long journey.

An increase in drug-impaired driving, particularly cannabis-related, is concerning for road safety. Studies have found that driving under the influence of cannabis can double the risk of a car accident. And when combined with alcohol, the risk of an accident can increase significantly.

In conclusion, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs remains a significant cause of car accidents in Ontario. Despite public campaigns and legal penalties, many individuals still choose to drive while impaired, posing a significant risk to all road users. The key to reversing this trend lies in continued education, law enforcement, and adopting safe, responsible behaviors behind the wheel.

4. Reckless Driving

Number 4 is reckless driving. A lack of caution and respect for the rules of the road, otherwise known as reckless driving, plays a significant role in the incidence of car accidents in Hamilton – and throughout Ontario. The term ‘reckless driving’ encapsulates a range of behaviors that either intentionally or carelessly compromise the safety of oneself and others on the road.

Reckless driving can manifest in various ways, including but not limited to, speeding excessively, driving too close to the vehicle in front (tailgating), not adhering to traffic signs and signals, and passing other vehicles illegally. Other forms of reckless conduct might involve street racing, performing risky stunts, or displaying aggressive behavior like road rage.

The peril of reckless driving and its contribution to accidents largely stem from the high-risk actions associated with it. For example, a driver travelling at a super high speed has significantly less time to react to sudden occurrences like a pedestrian crossing the road or another vehicle stopping abruptly – especially if that driver is young and inexperienced. Likewise, neglecting to signal intentions can lead to accidents because it doesn’t allow other drivers to predict their actions.

The probability of an crash happening is substantially increased when drivers make the choices to drive aggressively – and in the end – no one wins. Such behavior doesn’t just put the reckless driver in danger, but it also jeopardizes the safety of all other road users, including other motorists, motorcyclists, cyclists, and pedestrians.

5. Disobeying Traffic Signals

The 5th most common cause of car accidents in Ontario – as our Hamilton car accident lawyers have determined, is when motorists disobey traffic signals.

Disobeying traffic signals is one of the leading causes of car accidents in Ontario, underlining the importance of adherence to road rules for safe driving. Traffic signals, which include both lights at intersections and stop signs, are crucial in controlling vehicle flow and ensuring safety at intersections.

A driver might disobey a traffic signal by running a red light, not fully stopping at a stop sign, or ignoring a yellow light – all of which can cause a serious accident. For instance, at intersections controlled by traffic lights, some drivers might speed up to “beat” a yellow light, potentially leading to collisions with vehicles that start moving from other directions when their light turns green. Similarly, at a stop sign, drivers who do not come to a complete stop could potentially collide with a vehicle, cyclist, or pedestrian having the right of way at the intersection.

Disobeying traffic signals can lead to extremely devastating accidents, primarily because it often results in collisions at higher speeds and at angles that vehicles are less equipped to handle. One of the most common types of collisions is the “T-bone” collision, where the front of one vehicle collides with the side of another. These accidents often occur at high speeds and can result in severe injuries or even fatalities. The side of a vehicle offers less protection to occupants than the front or rear, making side-impact collisions particularly dangerous. Head-on crashes are equally as devastating – and unfortunately, often results in fatalities.

Such crashes can lead to significant injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, and amputations. These injuries can have long-lasting impacts, potentially leading to permanent disability or even death.

Have you been Involved in a Serious Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious car accident, we can help. Matt Lalande has been representing car accident victims since 2003 and has recovered millions in compensation for seriously injured people and their families through verdict and settlement.

Call us today, no matter where you are in Ontario at 1-844-LALANDE or local in Hamilton and throughout Southern Ontario at 905-333-8888. Alternatively, you can email us confidentially through our website or chat 24/7 with our live chat operator.

Free Case Review

We Can Help. Contact us 24/7

start your case905-333-8888




or fill out the form below

    • img
    • img
    • img
    • img

    Clients Testimonials

    more testimonials

    Experience Matters


    Motorcycle Accident

    view all case results



    or fill out the form below