With the annual Labour Day long weekend here, it is a time when many Northerners make that last road trip to their camp or take part in an end-of-summer camping, boating trip or wilderness adventure.
The Ontario Provincial Police is asking everyone to do their part to have a safe weekend and to ensure everyone can be safe at home when the weekend is over. Sadly. OPP have statistics that prove their concerns about safety.
In the first eight months of this year, as of the end of August, 176 people have died in 166 fatal collisions on OPP-patrolled roads. Many of the collisions were preventable and can be attributed to poor driving, said police.
Among the fatalities, 47 involved excessive speed and 33 were attributed to an inattentive driver. Lack of driver-seatbelt and passenger-seatbelt use has contributed to 29 deaths, while alcohol and/or drugs were a factor in 22 of this year's road fatalities, said the OPP.
The OPP said officers will be focused on the "big four" high-risk behaviours. Police said this consists of alcohol/drug impaired driving, distracted driving, speeding and lack of occupant restraints. These high-risk behaviours account for the majority of motor vehicle collision fatalities and are completely preventable, said police.
With this weekend expected to be among the year's busiest on our roads, OPP said officers will be working around the clock, enforcing traffic laws aimed at keeping the motoring public safe.
The safety concern is not limited to highways. Boaters and off-road vehicle riders are also reminded to make safety their top priority this weekend. The OPP has responded to 23 boater/paddler fatalities and 14 off-road vehicle deaths so far this year.
People falling overboard and capsized vessels remain the primary causes in OPP-investigated boating fatalities, with the risk to vessel occupants increasing dramatically when they do not wear a lifejacket. Wearing this life-saving equipment is the most important thing you can do while boating and paddling, said police.
For ATV users, police said riders losing control is a contributing factor in a significant number of off-road vehicle deaths every year. Riders are reminded to wear a helmet during every outing and to operate their vehicle in a manner that allows them to maintain control at all times.
The OPP has extended thanks to everyone who contributes to safe roads, waterways and trails this long weekend and throughout the year, helping Ontarians get to and from their destinations safely.