Publicity surrounding a sudden rash of fatal collisions in the last couple of days can be confusing. Does it mark an important change in pattern or is it simply due random fluctuation? These are the kinds of questions that could be answered by providing the public with better information about collision trends and statistics.

A sudden rash of motorcycle fatal collisions in last couple of days needs to be placed in its context of historical trends.

OPP collision data has been provided for the first 6 months of 2019 indicating 33,839 crashes, comprised of 4272 injury and 118 fatal. However changes have occurrred in reporting collisions such that many “minor” collisions are not reported. And incentives not to report injuries make it possible for injury collisions to become unreported. There is also an increased trend to report fatal injuries as due to pre-existing medical conditions such as heart failure and therefore not included in collision statistics.

Similar data reported for motorcycle collisions indicated that in the previous 11 years prior to 2019, there were an average of 30 motorcycle deaths whereas, up to the current date there have been only 11 deaths. According to these numbers fatal motorcycle collisions might be much lower than average in 2019. Yet, with the small numbers involved, the deviation in those numbers could be substantial from year to year or season to season.

Many important issues remain hidden in the general numbers. Numbers of persons drowning when vehicles enter roadside waters are not provided. Incidents of vehicle fires are also kept from the public’s knowledge. Incidents of vehicles striking roadside buildings may be related to “sudden unintended acceleration” that may be malfunctions of vehicle manufacture or maintenance but these occurrences are also not tracked. Incidents of unexplained major injury or death are never revealed as such in the public domain. Roadway safety problems such as surface conditions or roadside malfunctions of infrastructure are rarely revealed.

In all these matters, better collision data are needed to be provided in the public domain so that the public can decide for itself what is important and where the issues of importance truly lie.