Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Risk of death in crashes on Ontario’s highways

Damian Rzeznikiewiz, Hala Tamim and Alison K Macpherson*

Author Affiliations

School of Kinesiology and Health Science, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, M3J 1P3, Canada

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:1125  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-1125

Published: 28 December 2012



Motor vehicle collisions (MVCs) that result in one or more fatalities on the 400-series Highways represent a serious public health problem in Ontario, and were estimated to have cost $11 billion in 2004. To date, no studies have examined risk factors for fatal MVCs on Ontario’s 400 series highways.

The investigate how demographic and environmental risk factors are associated with fatal MVCs on Ontario’s 400-Series Highways.


Data were provided from the Ontario Ministry of Transport database, and included driver demographics, vehicle information, environmental descriptors, structural descriptors, as well as collision information (date and time), and severity of the collision. Multivariate analysis was used to identify factors significantly associated with the odds of dying in a collision.


There were 53,526 vehicles involved in collisions from 2001 to 2006 included in our analysis. Results from the multivariate analysis suggest that collisions with older age and male drivers were associated with an increased risk of involving a fatality. Highway 405 and an undivided 2-way design proved to be the most fatal structural configurations. Collisions in the summer, Fridays, between 12 am-4 am, and in drifting snow conditions during the wintertime were also shown to have a significantly increased risk of fatality.


Our results suggest that interventions to reduce deaths as a result of MVCs should focus on both driver-related and road-related modifications.