A special report has discovered that the number of deaths resulting from ATV and snowmobile accidents in Atlantic Canada has surged in recent times.
While it is not clear exactly how many people drive these types of vehicles in the region, some 360,000 ATVs and snowmobiles are registered in the four provinces.
CBC News investigated the matter and found that since 2012 there have been more than 178 people in the region killed on ATVs and/or snowmobiles. The news outlet also found that, in most cases, victims were middle-aged men.
A breakdown of the 178 deaths was presented:
- 44 of the deaths were due to the vehicle hitting an obstacle
- 42 were caused by a vehicle rollover
- 21 were caused by the vehicle hitting another vehicle/animal/person
- 18 were caused by a loss of control, or because the driver was thrown out
- 13 were caused by the vehicle falling through ice, or by the driver drowning
- In 38 deaths, the cause of death was not known
- Two deaths did not match any of the categories
Most of the fatal crashes occurred between 6pm and 6am. Additionally, the report found that 61% of the accidents happened on weekends or the holidays.
Some 41% of the crashes involved alcohol, CBC Newsfound, but the news company believes the figure is too low an estimate. In fact, investigators found that there is no accurate number being kept of impaired drivers dying in ATV/snowmobile crashes – not even the police is keeping accurate track.
According to an RCMP spokesperson in Newfoundland and Labrador, police sometimes know whether alcohol was involved, but choose not to reveal it “out of respect for the families of the deceased.”
Training might also be a factor in reducing instances of ATV/snowmobile accidents. Investigators found that Nova Scotia – the only province that requires adults to take safety training before operating an off-road vehicle – had a death rate of five per 100,000. In New Brunswick and NL, however, the rates were eight per 100,000 and 11.5 per 100,000, respectively.