Is Driving in Brampton Really That Bad?

There’s no shortage of complaints about driving in Brampton - just ask anyone who drives here. Brampton’s constant growth - we’re currently the ninth largest city in Canada and our population is set to hit a million in just over 20 years - could mean more congestion on the roads and increased construction and road expansions. With that in mind, the question stands as to what exactly defines how bad it is to drive in Brampton - or if it’s bad at all in the grand scheme of driving in a suburban city like ours.

What constitutes bad driving?

A recent belairdirect report by Leger Research shows that 95 per cent of Canadians think they are good drivers, but 93 per cent of those people admit to engaging in at least one bad habit behind the wheel, like texting, being under the influence, or feeling fatigued.

Three in 10 drivers admit to having run a red light, and 14 per cent have even admitted to engaging in romantic activities while behind the wheel.

Perhaps “bad driving” can be associated with any kind of dangerous behaviour on the road.

What makes driving somewhere “bad”?

Alongside bad habits behind the wheel, the amount of road construction, the number of traffic offences, congestion on the roads or lack thereof, and insurance rates are just a few of the factors that play into what it’s like to drive somewhere, but there’s a lot of animosity surrounding what it’s like to drive in Brampton considering these factors in particular. That is, factors that can be grounded in statistics and public experience.

Road construction in Brampton

As for road construction, there are hundreds of construction projects slated for this year. That includes construction on side streets and in residential areas, major road construction, bridge rehab, street light upgrades, environmental assessments, and future construction projects.

The city’s 10-year Roads Capital Program is a long-term look at the planned expansion of Brampton’s road network from 2014-2023. The program aims to expand roads to accommodate for Brampton’s growth. Almost 20 expansion projects are scheduled for 2018-2023.

Not to be forgotten are the future-thinking major streetscape improvements coming to the downtown core that will impact driving in downtown Brampton. Streetscape project construction is slated for 2019, while sewer and watermain construction is slated for 2018.

Running into construction all over the city might be troublesome or difficult, but whether it makes driving in Brampton as awful as many drivers say it is is up for debate. In fact, improving and expanding roads might make driving better in a city where the population is growing at almost three times the national rate.

Traffic offences in Brampton

Traffic offences are another factor that might affect the ease of driving in Brampton. Statistical data from Peel Regional Police indicates that Highway Traffic Act charges actually decreased from a whopping 32,902 across 21 and 22 Divisions (Brampton’s Peel Regional Police Divisions) in 2015, to 32,326 in 2016, still quite a staggering number. It should be factored in that these numbers may be very slightly inflated as 21 Division includes a sliver of Malton.

That’s still over 32,000 Highway Traffic Act offences per year on average in Brampton. Most of these charges are for speeding, with invalid permits and failing to stop at stop signs not far behind.

Congestion in Brampton

Congestion is definitely an issue in Brampton - anyone who drives here knows how busy intersections can get, especially during rush hour.

We wrote an article recently about some of the most nightmarish intersections in Brampton, like Steeles and Hurontario, where crashes often hold up southbound traffic, Highway 50 and Ebenezer, the site of several fatal accidents, and Queen and Rutherford, which State Farm Insurance has said is one of the three most dangerous intersections in Ontario.

It’s no surprise that Brampton has some of the highest insurance in the GTA.

Insurance in Brampton

Speaking of insurance, also known as the elephant in the room, it’s definitely no secret that Brampton has the highest car insurance rate in Ontario with an estimated premium of $2392 a year, 65% higher than the provincial average.

Further, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) says that more and more insurance claims are coming from Brampton by the year, causing rates to rise.

In fact, the IBC says that, in 2015, the provincial average for number of insurance claims was 9.3 per 100 vehicles, while the average in Brampton for number of insurance claims was 11.5 per 100 vehicles.

The average cost of a claim in 2015 was $14,780 in Brampton, while the average for Ontario was $11,556. Brampton’s average cost per claim was 27.7 per cent higher than the provincial average, according to the IBC’s calculations.

Surprisingly (or not), those numbers have decreased significantly (for Brampton) or stayed roughly the same (for provincial averages) in comparison with insurance claims from 2009-2011.

From 2009 to 2011, in Brampton, there were 12.1 claims per 100 vehicles and the average cost per claim was $20,239, while Ontario-wide, there were 9.2 claims per 100 vehicles and the average claim cost was $12,815.

When insurance companies look at setting premiums, they look at how many claims occur in a certain area, the amount of claims that are paid out, and the severity of those claims,” the IBC told inbrampton.com. According to the IBC, these are the primary factors that indicate which city’s claims are more severe than others in the province.

Safety initiatives in Brampton

The city does have a number of initiatives in place to address pedestrian and driver safety, including traffic calming measures like red light cameras and community safety zones, road signs like all-way stops and advanced street sign address numbers, and school traffic safety like crossing guards and flashing school zone signs.

These initiatives are specially designed and implemented to combat traffic incidents, and encourage safety on the roads, and there’s no doubt that they work much of the time.

Regardless, there are clearly an abundance of factors to be considered when talking about what it’s like to drive in Brampton, just like there are in any other city.

How bad is driving in Brampton?

The Leger Research report did find that Canadians are worse drivers than they think over all, engaging in strange and inappropriate actions while driving. They report found that three per cent of Canadian drivers have even admitted to flossing behind the wheel!

And though there are crashes taking down light poles, impaired drivers colliding with shrubbery and driving golf carts, and drivers crashing into buildings in Brampton, these kinds of traffic incidents, all kinds of construction, congestion, and high insurance rates do plague other cities, too - right?

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