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How COVID-19 Has Affected Driving in Ontario

High risk driver

It has been a quiet couple of months out on the streets and roadways of Ontario with many businesses and institutions shuttered, countless employees working from home and stay at home and social distancing orders in place.

For many this pandemic has resulted in the car being used far less often – perhaps prompting a shift in usage on car insurance coverage for the purpose of cost savings or even parking up vehicles for the time being and cancelling coverage.

Have you been wondering how has this drastic change in the comings and goings of our society changed what’s happening out there on the roads?

Let’s take a look at the good… and the bad.

Far fewer collisions

The good news is that thanks to the marked decrease in traffic, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is reporting a 60% drop in collisions when compared to last year (2019) and the Toronto Police Service says that collisions have gone down by 80%.

This reality has prompted the call for insurers in Canada to offer drivers a considerable adjustment in their rates, which generally speaking has not happened in a consistent way. Check out this article from The Star to learn more: Canadians are driving far less during COVID-19, which means fewer accidents. So why aren’t insurance companies offering across-the-board relief?

Speed demons

On the flip side, the bad news is that there has been a growing trend of dangerous driving. The OPP reported that over the weekend of May 9 they caught two different drivers going more than 2x the speed limit on highways. One of the drivers was caught in Toronto (on the QEW highway) going 308 km/h – the posted speed limit is 100 km/h! This triggered the stunt driving law – anytime a driver is going over 50 km/h over the speed limit.

The OPP stated that they have had over 150 stunt driving offences since May 1. In April, they saw 358 violations which is a 26% increase over April 2019.

In Toronto, things are even worse.  The Toronto Police Service has reported a 594% increase in stunt driving offences and a 25% increase in speeding infractions.

{ The above mentioned stats are from The Canadian Underwriter – Open roads: Driving “fast and furious” during the pandemic }

And unfortunately this is a trend that is being seen across the country.

Car insurance repercussions

So what does this mean for car insurance? Well, as we all know, risky driving and traffic violations, especially major ones, puts an individual in the high risk driver category, one that has marked repercussions on auto insurance rates (learn more about that here and here). In general, insurers take into account a myriad of factors when it comes to setting rates – road safety and driver safety being one of them. Hopefully this worrying trend is only a short-lived, irresponsible (to put things mildly) response to the reduced traffic on roadways and does not translate into a longer term trend.

In an effort to mitigate this worrying increase in high risk driving, the Ministry of Transportation in Ontario has proposed new legislation (April 2021) to make the roads safer by targeting unsafe driving with harsher penalties. Learn more about that here.

We will just have to wait and see how this decrease in collisions and driving in general, but major uptick in speeding infractions and high risk driving behaviour gets taken into account by Ontario auto insurers as they set the rates for our province.

Have any questions about your car insurance during the pandemic? Wondering if you should be making any adjustments to your coverage? Reach out to someone from our team and we’ll be happy to help. Please note that while our offices remain closed to in-person visits, we are still here to support you.

Taking the opportunity to do some research on car insurance options during this downtime? Check out our online quote tool.

car insurance Ontario We are still here to support you with your auto insurance needs during COVID-19. Contact us today.

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