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Published on Jul 01 2015Richard J. Brennan
More than one person was killed every day last month on Ontario Provincial Police patrolled highways, making it one of the deadliest Junes in years.
Deputy commissioner Brad Blair, provincial commander for the OPP’s Traffic Safety and Operational Support, said 38 people — 26 men and 12 women — were killed, compared to 17 in May. He said the numbers are both shocking and tragic.
“That is the largest month over month jump since June-July 2010,” he told the Star Tuesday.
Almost all were either 19 years and under, or 55 and older, and a majority had speed and inattentive driving as a contributing factor.
Blair said what is particularly alarming is the number of multiple fatalities, adding he couldn’t even find a comparison month.
“There were two triples and four doubles . . . in six collisions you’ve got 14 killed,” he said, noting these accidents happened in Dufferin and Lanark counties and Midland area.
For the most part, Blair said they were crossover head-on collisions and motorists losing control after hitting the shoulder and over correcting, “which both speak to inattentive driving from our perspective and speed is also a factor in these collisions.”
Of the multiple fatalities many were families. One was a mother and two sons, while another was a husband and wife.
“This has huge impact on families . . . it is heartbreaking. I have seen the collision scene photos and I can say that I haven’t seen anything so horrific as those recently,” the deputy commissioner said.
Blair prays the carnage does not continue — given that it is only the start of the summer — and urges motorists to slow down and watch the road.
“We are hoping that by people paying attention to this reality . . . that this trend stops. It is in their control in terms of their driving behaviour. This isn’t just about looking after themselves, this is about looking after everyone else who is sharing the roadway,” he said.
Even with the spike in June, Blair said, the death toll so far this year compared to the same period last year is 130. Deadly crashes on provincial highways have gone down steadily since the early 2000s, when there were 450 and more killed in one year.
Blair says his message to motorists is that when they see dangerous or reckless driving that they call the OPP.
“Just call in because not only could you be saving that person’s life, you could be saving the lives of innocent people,” he said.