What Can You Expect on the Roads This May Long Weekend?

The unofficial kick-off to summer amid the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown.

The May long weekend is usually the unofficial kick-off to summer. It’s a time when friends and family pack their cars and head up to the cottage, whether it’s their own or that of a buddy’s. But, there’s nothing normal about this year’s May long weekend due to COVID-19 and many people, according to a new InsuranceHotline.com survey, appear to be choosing to stay at home.

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Almost 15% don’t feel it’s safe to venture too far

The weather is slowly starting to warm, and some provinces have eased up on their COVID-19 lockdown. Even in provinces where the restrictions have loosened, however, the overarching request and advice from the various levels of government is that Canadians should stay local (or better yet at home) to limit their exposure. And while there are some Canadians (14.7%) heeding this advice to skip the road trip this weekend to their cottage, cabin, camp, or chalet, there are some (7.4%) who are not:

  • 7.4% of survey respondents said they’re going to a vacation property this May long weekend
  • 5.2% are not going this weekend but plan to at some point this summer
  • 14.7% feel it’s unsafe at this time to travel too far even to a vacation property
  • 1.5% said they wouldn’t be going out of town because they don’t have enough auto coverage
  • 29.4% don’t have a vacation property to visit
  • 41.7% preferred not to answer the question

The last point is interesting. Almost 41.7% of the more than 1,300 people surveyed indicated they didn’t want to answer the question. Whether it’s because they don’t know their plans yet, are still debating on whether or not a trip to the cottage is a good idea, or don’t want to say, there’s a whole lot of people holding their cards close to their chests about how they plan to spend their weekends as the weather improves.

Speeding in the time of COVID-19

We’ve all heard the news reports about extreme speeders on our nearly empty roads. One of the latest, in Ontario, is an 18-year-old driver of a Mercedes-Benz caught doing 308 km/hour – more than three times the posted limit! Fortunately, no one was harmed (except for maybe the young man’s future auto insurance premiums). This type of occurrence is the exception, not the norm.

That’s not to say, however, that regular drivers are not speeding more now in the time of COVID-19 than before. A separate InsuranceHotline.com survey found that since there are fewer cars on the road, 34% of respondents agreed they’re more likely to drive five to 15 km/hr over the posted speed limit than before.

On neighbourhood streets where the limit could be as low as 30 km/hour, or on highways where you can travel 100 km/hour, exceeding the limit — even just a little — is dangerous. Speeding is one of the most common causes of collisions in the country, along with distracted driving and driver impairment.

Why is speeding dangerous?

Whether you’re speeding a little or a lot, speeding is speeding, and it’s dangerous:

  • The faster you go, the narrower your field of vision to watch out for hazards that could result in a crash
  • The faster you go, the more time you’ll need – time you won’t have – to take corrective measures to avoid a collision
  • The faster you go, the greater the braking distance needed to come to a stop
  • The faster you go, the greater the severity of a crash

Watch your speed because chances are someone else will be too

Traditionally, police across the country kick off Canada Road Safety Week that coincides with the May long weekend. The road safety blitz runs from May 12 to May 18, 2020. The campaign is especially prudent this year as police forces Canada-wide have noticed an uptick in dangerous driving behaviour on near-empty roads and you can bank on the police in your home province being on the lookout for speeders.

Be mindful of your speedometer, otherwise, you may find yourself speeding towards higher auto insurance premiums. A speeding ticket for driving five to 15 km over the posted limit would typically be considered a minor traffic conviction which could result in a 10% increase in premiums down the road. But that’s only if it’s your first ticket. If you already have a ticket on your driving record, you could see a premium increase as much as 15%. It’ll also follow you (and your insurance rates) for about three years, the time it takes to clear off your driving record.

Survey methodology

The online surveys were conducted from May 6, 2020, to May 12, 2020, with Google Surveys. Two separate surveys were run: one regarding speeding and one about the likelihood of visiting a vacation property. The speeding survey sample included 1,019 Canadians. The vacation property sample included 1,364 Canadians. For both surveys, respondents are drivers who indicated they were 18 years of age or older.