A recent analysis by Bloomberg examined why traffic fatalities have declined in Canada as they’ve risen dramatically in the United States. The differences between the two nations, which are “comparably young and similarly configured,” are dramatic: in 2020, 118 Americans for every million died in car crashes, while only 46 for every million died in Canada, per the report, which describes a few key differences accounting for this gap.
One is that massive passenger vehicles, like certain SUVs and pickup trucks, are less popular in Canada than in the US. While both SUVs and trucks are among Canada’s best-selling vehicles, Canadian customers have sprung for smaller models than US drivers, with “subcompact and compact SUVs” accounting for more sales than the larger ones that have reportedly been connected to spiking fatalities in the US. “We’re not all driving around in tiny cars like in Europe, but nor do we fetishize Cadillac Escalades like in the US,” a spokesperson for the Canadian Automobile Association told Bloomberg. “SUVs are growing more popular here, but we tend to buy them one size smaller than in the US.”
Another factor: Canada’s gas taxes, which are higher than those in the US. According to Bloomberg, the average cost of gas last month was $6.76/gallon in Canada, as opposed to $5.19/gallon in the US. The higher cost is “largely” a result of Canada’s gas and carbon tax, 62 cents per gallon of regular gas as opposed to the US’s gas tax of 18 cents per gallon. (Both figures are in US dollars.) The Bloomberg report suggests that these higher prices “appear to have helped nudge Canadians to adopt different travel habits,” with Canadians traveling shorter distances on average than American drivers.
It may also be a contributing factor that “more than a third of Canadians live in the three biggest metro areas of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver,” enjoying the fruits of these cities’ public transit system and bicycle infrastructure. The three biggest metro areas in the US, by contrast, are home to a little more than 10% of the country’s populace. Public transportation usage is also more common in Canada, with twice as many Canadians as Americans riding commuting to their workplaces via public transit in 2019.
To read more about the factors that may account for the drastically lower car crash deaths in Canada than in the US, check out Bloomberg’s analysis.