On several occasions, when driving to and from Ontario with friends, there have been comments about the quality of driving in Ontario, versus that of Quebec. The general consensus is that drivers from Ontario are bad drivers (and, when talking with my Ontario friends, those from Quebec are the bad drivers.)
As you know from my previous blog Country/City Girl, I grew up in small town Ontario. For University, I moved to Montreal – a thriving, busy city with an awful and confusing highway design. When I first observed the movement of the many vehicles on the street, I was overwhelmed. My small town driving skills were obviously going to be no use here. But, if there is one thing I’ve come to appreciate about Quebec drivers, it is that they all seem to drive the same. In the seeming chaos of the streets, there is an understanding between those behind the wheel – I’ll drive a bit crazy and so will you and we will all get home safely in an acceptable amount of time.
In an attempt to provide some facts, I did a quick Google search for statistics about car accidents in the area of Montreal. The most relevant article was published in the Montreal Gazette in May of 2009. It states:
“In 2008, 557 people died on Quebec roads, 106 fewer deaths than the province averaged over the previous five years. It was the lowest death toll since 1948. The worst year was 1973, when 2,209 people died on Quebec roads.”
Is any one else baffled by the fact that, in 1973, 2,209 people died in car accidents? How about by the fact that, in a province of roughly 7.5 million people, only 0.0077% of the population died due to accidents in 2008.
Lets look at Ontario, shall we? I did several searches for hard statistics, and all I could find was this quote from an article called “Ontario Results” on cyberbeach.net. It states:
“In 1992 Ontario had 6,688,761 licensed motorists that were involved in 224,249 accidents. Out of these accidents 1,090 people were killed and 91,025 were injured…. The numbers show the accident rate in Ontario is the lowest it has been since 1954 and a driver has a 1 in 30 chance of being involved in a collision per year and only a 1 in 6136 of being killed.”
In 1992, Ontario’s entire population was just over 10,084,885; that means that the percentage of fatal accidents in 1992 is roughly 0.011%.
So then I ask myself, are Quebec drivers really bad? The percentage of fatal accidents is lower than that of Ontario. Granted, we’re looking at a time difference of roughly 16 years and Ontario, from what I understand, has implemented some strict road rules that have probably brought their overall fatality number down. But still, the question remains – are Quebec drivers bad or do they just not fit into the accepted and understood road rules of other provinces, namely Ontario?
Personally, I think that driving in a new province, or country – if we want to think of this in a broader sense – is always a bit different. Each area, each region has their own set of rules that, though they may not realize it, is unknown to their “foreign” counterpoints. Ontario drivers just don’t work under the same rules as Quebec drivers, and vice versa; that doesn’t make any one group of drivers particularly worse than another group.
After all, at one point or another, everyone has pretty poor driving skills.
What do you think?
If you’re not from Ontario or Quebec, but have experienced a similar rivalry with neighbouring areas, I’d love to hear about it!