View looking west toward Highway 73 (Elgin Road) showing Highway 401 traffic in late April, 2020. Lower traffic volumes may have increased overall speed but the number of major collisions appear to be reduced on Ontario’s expressways.

In an article (“Overall Safety of Ontario’s Expressways Hides Chronic Safety Problems”) posted on the Gorski Consulting website on January 9, 2020, we listed 21 collisions that were reported by official news media which occurred on Ontario’s expressways in December of 2019. That list is reproduced again below, followed by a similar list of collisions for April, 2020.

Ontario Expressway Collisions in December, 2019

  1. On December 1, 2019, a female driver was killed when her vehicle “came to rest in a treeline” on the north side of Hwy 401 near Orford Road in Chatham-Kent. Since forested areas are located a substantial distance of the travel lanes it was unusual, and unexplained, how this fatality occurred.
  2. On December 1, 2019 a multi-vehicle pile-up, involving 30 to 40 vehicles, occurred in the westbound lanes of Hwy 401 in Kingston near Hwy 15. One person was killed while 16 persons were taken to hospital. The OPP indicated the collision occurred in whiteout conditions.
  3. On December 1, 2019, a 24-year-old female driver of an SUV was killed when her vehicle was struck by a tractor-trailer near Jordan Road. It was reported by the OPP that the collision occurred just as freezing rain was starting to fall.
  4. On December 1, 2019, the OPP reported that there were about 400 vehicles involved in collisions in the GTA. These collisions were caused by winter-like road conditions with a mix of ice pellets and snowfall.
  5. On December 1, 2019, complaints were made by the OPP that drivers on Hwy 403 were turning around and driving the wrong way within a construction zone in the Mississauga area. It was confirmed that there were winter roads conditions as evidenced in video showing vehicles making the U-turns but it was never explained what prompted the vehicles to make these turns.
  6. On December 6, 2019, a female pedestrian was struck by transport truck on the QEW near Dorval Drive in Oakville. It was reported that she exited a stopped passenger car just before she was struck. There were conflicting reports whether the female was critical condition or had passed away.
  7. On December 6, 2019 a passenger car was rear-ended by a small truck on Hwy 401 near Warden Ave, causing critical injuries to two children. The collision occurred when traffic was slowing and OPP indicated “It appears the collision was the result of either driver inattention or a driver not responding to change traffic patterns ahead”.
  8. On December 6, 2019 a wheel separated from a commercial motor vehicle on Hwy 401 in Southwold Township, south-west of London, Ontario. The separated wheel passed through the median and struck two oncoming vehicles but no injuries were reported.
  9. On December 11, 2019 OPP reported the occurrence of a multi-vehicle pile-up in the westbound lanes of Hwy 401 near County Road 15 east of Brockville. A second pile-up occurred near Deseronto Road. One person died in the crashes. The environmental conditions were described as “snowy” and this was supported by photos showing a substantial amount of snow covering the road surface.
  10. On December 11, 2019 a tractor-trailer rolled over on Hwy 401 between Colonel Talbot and Union Roads, south-west of London. No injuries were reported and no explanation was provided as to how the rolled truck came to be resting across all three lanes of the highway.
  11. On December 11, 2019 the OPP reported that one of their cruisers was struck in the westbound lanes of Hwy 401 between Cobourg and Brighton, east of Toronto. The collision was blamed on the formation of “black ice”. No other details were provided.
  12. On December 18, 2019 the OPP reported that six crashes had occurred, involving multiple vehicles, on Hwy 401 between Putnam Road and Ingersoll. The collisions occurred in both the eastbound and westbound lanes. An OPP photo of the area showed a substantial amount of snow on the road surface. No further information was provided with respect to any injuries.
  13. On December 19, 2019 the OPP reported that approximately 50 vehicles, including 6 transport trucks, were involved in a pile-up on Hwy 400 near Hwy 88 north of Toronto. An OPP photo of the area showed that the road surface was snow-covered.
  14. On December 20, 2019 the OPP reported that a pedestrian was struck on the Garden City Skyway in St Catharines. It was reported that the pedestrian had stepped out of vehicle from an earlier collision and was struck by a vehicle passing through the site of the earlier collision.
  15. On December 21, 2019, A three-vehicle collision occurred in the westbound lanes of Hwy 401 near Hwy 6, east of Cambridge. Two persons died in the crash. No information was provided as to how the crash occurred.
  16. On December 21, 2019, four vehicles were involved in a collision in the eastbound lanes of the QEW east of Winston Churchill Blvd. Six persons were transported to hospital but none of the injuries were life-threatening. No information was provided as to  the cause of the collision.
  17. On December 26, 2019 a serious rear-end impact occurred in the eastbound lanes of Hwy 401 approaching Dixon Road in Toronto. Three persons were sent to hospital but no further details were available.
  18. On December 26, 2019 a four-vehicle collision occurred on the QEW east of Dorval Drive. Five persons were transported to hospital and one driver was charged with impaired driving.
  19. On December 27, 2019 a hit-&-run, rear-end impact occurred on the westbound off ramp from Hwy 401 to Liverpool road in Pickering. No further details were available.
  20. On December 30, 2019 a vehicle became disabled in a live lane of the eastbound express lanes of Hwy 401 at Allen Road. A occupant from the vehicle was subsequently struck by a tractor-trailer and was killed.
  21. On December 31, 2019 two trailer-trailers were involved a collision in the westbound lanes of Hwy 401 at Furnival Road between London and Chatham, Ontario. No injuries were reported.

Ontario Expressway Collisions in April, 2020

  1. On April 3, 2020 an eastbound tractor-trailer drove off the lanes of Highway 401 and came to stop partway into the Cataraqui River near Kingston. The driver had to swim to the shore. While the extent of injuries was not provided, no fatality was involved.
  2. On April 6, 2020 the OPP Twitter reported that a tractor-trailer drove into a ditch after it was involved in a collision with a pick-up truck that was hauling a trailer. The OPP reported that there were no injuries.
  3. On April 6, 2020 the OPP Twitter reported that a car struck a double-trailer transport truck. The transport subsequently rolled onto its side over the concrete median barrier of Highway 401 at Ritson Road. The OPP reported there were no injuries.
  4. On April 9, 2020 the OPP Twitter indicated that a car struck the rear of a transport truck on Highway 401 at the James Snow Parkway. Although injury information was not provided, photos of the vehicle showed damage to its right front corner which was of moderate severity. It would be highly unlikely that fatal injuries would have occurred.
  5. On April 11, 2020 the OPP Twitter reported that a transport truck has struck a crash barrier in the eastbound lanes of Highway 401 at Highway 407. Damage to the truck was minor and there were no injuries.
  6. On April 12, 2020 a tractor-trailer struck a construction barrier on Highway 401 at Mississauga Road. The truck rolled over and caught fire however the driver only suffered minor cuts.
  7. On April 15, 2020 an impaired driver travelled the wrong way on Highway 402, somewhere in Strathroy-Caradoc, and his vehicle struck the median barrier. The extent of his injuries was not indicated but he was arrested at the scene of the collision rather than being transferred to hospital so any injuries were likely no serious.
  8. On April 21, 2020 the OPP Twitter reported that an SUV had rolled over in the eastbound collectors lanes of Highway 401 at Warden Ave. Three persons were taken to hospital but no further information was available as to the extent of their injuries. Photos showing the SUV upside down with a  collapsed roof suggested that there could be major injuries.
  9. On April 21, 2020 a westbound tractor-trailer rolled over onto its side on Highway 401 near Victoria Road in Chatham-Kent. No injuries were reported.
  10. On April 24, 2020 a driver sustained serious injuries when he was “partially ejected” from his vehicle when involved in an unidentified, single vehicle collision on the ramp from Highway 401 express to collector lanes east of Allen Road.

The above lists were taken from an informal review of news media and OPP Twitter reports focused more toward the south-west and central parts of southern Ontario. While the lists may be incomplete there is no other way of obtaining official information of collisions unless the OPP or Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation are willing to provide it. The news media tend to report on serious and fatal collisions thus these lists likely reflect the general numbers of such occurrences.

The general conclusion gained from this review is that, while speeding on Ontario’s expressways has increased during the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of serious collisions appears to have decreased.

The December 2019 summary indicates that there were 7 fatal collisions and 8 fatalities. Conversely, the April 2020 summary shows that no  fatalities occurred during that month. Furthermore, of the 11 incidents cited in April 2020, 4 involved specific references that no injuries occurred. Again, while these summaries are likely incomplete and do not contain details of the injuries the overall impression is that both the number of collisions and their severities were decreased during the Covid-19 pandemic month of April, 2020 versus the Covid-19-free month of December 2019.