Whoa, Canada! Albertans urged to stay safe as they hit the road for country’s 150th

  • Nearly half of Albertans to travel in celebration of country’s birthday
  • Expect packed highways as motorists head to National Parks
  • Long weekends see 18 per cent higher rate of fatal collisions
  • July is peak time for alcohol and speed-related deaths on Alberta roads

As Albertans prepare to celebrate Canada’s 150th, the Alberta Motor Association (AMA) is forecasting one of the busiest long weekends of 2017 on major roadways. In addition to the usual holiday traffic, motorists will contend with an influx of patriotic road-trippers: 46 per cent of Albertans plan to celebrate the 150th outside their home city sometime this year – and among those not living in Calgary or Edmonton, that proportion climbs to 54 per cent.

“Holiday weekends see an alarming spike in fatal collisions – an average 18 per cent higher compared to non-holiday weekends. Let’s celebrate Canada’s 150th with our famous Canadian courtesy and patience; make sure you plan ahead and drive with safety front of mind,” says Jeff Kasbrick, vice-president of government and stakeholder relations for AMA. “Road deaths linked to speeding, impaired driving and distracted driving are all preventable if everyone takes responsibility behind the wheel.”

Nearly seven in 10 Albertans who plan to travel this year say a road trip will be part of their itinerary. The AMA Survey of 1,795 adults finds the top draws for Canada Day celebrations are National Parks (31 per cent), followed by B.C. (14 per cent), Ottawa (10 per cent), the Maritimes (eight per cent) and “other parts of Alberta” (seven per cent).

“We want traffic safety to be as Canadian as the Log Driver’s Waltz and hockey hair,” says Kasbrick. “At the end of the day, everyone has the same goal in mind for our country’s 150th: a great celebration with family and friends, and for people to arrive home safely afterward. What’s more Canadian than that, eh?”

Fast Facts


  • A quarter of drivers involved in fatal collisions in Alberta in 2015 were reportedly travelling at an unsafe speed
  • July saw the highest number of fatal collisions of any month at 40 (13.9 per cent)
  • June and July saw the highest number of speed-related fatal collisions
  • 86.8 per cent of AMA members have had another driver tailgate them to make them speed up

Distracted Driving

  • Drivers who text are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash or near-crash
  • About 26 per cent of collisions involve phone use
  • 80 per cent of collisions and 65 per cent of near-collisions involve some form of driver inattention
  • A third of Canadians admit to texting at red lights

Impaired Driving

  • In 2015, 19.8 per cent of Alberta drivers involved in fatal collisions consumed alcohol before the crash
  • That same year, 85 people died in alcohol-related collisions in Alberta – a 25 per cent increase over 2014
  • July saw the highest number of fatal collisions involving alcohol
  • As the severity of a collision increases, so too does the likelihood of alcohol being involved
  • People who drive within three hours of smoking marijuana are at nearly twice the risk of a crash leading to serious injury or death
  • Nearly one in five Canadians have either driven under the influence of marijuana or been in a vehicle while the driver was under the influence; among those aged 18 to 24, the proportion climbs to one in four
  • In Canada, studies indicate that drugs were found in up to 40 per cent of fatally injured drivers

Sources: Alberta Transportation, CAA National, the BMJ, the Alberta Motor Association