Today’s Solutions: March 27, 2023

While traffic-related fatalities increased in the United States by 19 percent between 2010 and 2020, Canadian rates declined by about the same amount in that time. Many consider Canada culturally very similar to the US, but when it comes to traffic safety, they have more European attitudes. Here are a few factors that keep Canadian traffic fatalities lower than the US. 

Smaller cars

While Canada certainly has their taste for SUVs and pickup trucks, big-car popularity isn’t anywhere near what it is south of the border. Bigger vehicles like SUVs and pickups now comprise 70 percent of car sales in the US. Large vehicles like these are statistically more likely to hit bicyclists and pedestrians than smaller cars. Canada does have their share of large vehicles, but the trend toward compact SUVs and pickups. This explains the decreasing numbers of Canadian pedestrian and bike fatalities, while the US’s numbers increase. 

Higher fuel tax

As of June, a gallon of Canadian gas cost $6.76 compared to $5.19 in the US, and this doesn’t have to do with economics. It’s a matter of policy. The Canadian gas and carbon tax add 62 cents to a gallon of gas, and policies like these have persuaded many Canadians to drive less or seek alternative transportation. This, of course, contributes to fewer people on the road and fewer traffic accidents. 

Public transportation

While around 40 percent of Canadians took public transportation to work as of 2019, that number was about half as much in the US. There are far fewer road fatalities with public transportation, and major cities like Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver are investing in upgrades to their systems. Meanwhile, public transportation in many US cities is declining in popularity. 

Automated traffic enforcement

Much like France, Canada has been increasing its use of cameras to catch speeders over the last 15 years. In May, Toronto announced that it would increase its number of speed cameras by 50 percent. Canada also has generally lower speed limits than those in the US. Research consistently shows that speed enforcement and lowering the speed of drivers lowers the risks of traffic fatalities. 


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