Risk groups, Contributing factors and Interventions

The following key risk groups and contributing factors have been identified based on emerging trends and research and analysis conducted over Canada’s last three road safety strategies. Content in this section features key risk groups and contributing factors that need to be addressed to improve road safety in Canada.

Contributing Factors
Alcohol Impaired Driving Drug Impaired Driving Distracted Driving Fatigue Impaired Drivers Speed and Aggressive Drivers Unrestrained Occupants Environmental Factors Road Infrastructure Vehicle Factors
Young/Novice Drivers
Medically at Risk Drivers
Vulnerable Road Users
Commercial Drivers
High Risk Drivers
General Population

Key Risk Groups

Young/Novice Drivers

Drivers who are under the age of 25 or have less than 2 years driving experience.

Medically at Risk Drivers

Drivers with physical or cognitive impairments which affect a person’s ability to operate vehicles safely.

Vulnerable Road Users

Pedestrians, motorcyclists, cyclists and persons in personal mobilized devices (e.g., motorized wheelchairs and scooters).

Commercial Drivers

Drivers of heavy commercial vehicles (e.g., vehicles over 4,586 kg or passenger transportation).

High Risk Drivers

Repeat offenders with a pattern of illegal driving behaviors’ (e.g., recurring incidences of alcohol/drug impaired driving, traffic violations, collision involvement, or suspended/prohibited drivers).

General Population

Road users who benefit from strategies, interventions, regulations, and legislation introduced to make roads, vehicles and road users safer.

Key Contributing Factors

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving occurs when a driver’s attention is diverted from the driving task by secondary activities (e.g., eating, talking to passengers, talking or texting on electronic communication devices (ECDs) such as cell phones and smart phones).

Alcohol Impaired Driving

Physical or cognitive impairment of a road user which is caused by the consumption of alcohol.

Drug Impaired Driving

Physical or cognitive impairment of a road user which is caused by the consumption of psychotropic drugs (e.g., cannabis, prescription drugs, narcotics, etc.).

Fatigue Impaired Drivers

Fatigue is a general state caused by lack of sleep, time of day, time on task, or task monotony which diminishes the ability to drive by altering alertness and vigilance.

Speed and Aggressive Drivers

Includes driving at speeds beyond posted legal limits or driving too fast for road conditions and driver behaviors’ which are deemed illegal or outside socially acceptable norms which put other road users at risk (e.g., tailgating, improper passing, failure to signal, etc.).

Unrestrained Occupants

Includes factors pertaining to proper restraint use by all road users (e.g., seat belts, child safety seats, booster seats).

Environmental Factors

Includes factors that may affect the likelihood or severity of crash occurrence (e.g. weather conditions, wildlife on road). 

Road Infrastructure

Includes factors that may affect the likelihood or severity of crash occurrence (e.g., roadway configuration, road construction, road surface condition, road and roadside design, lighting and signage).

Vehicle Factors

Includes factors related to vehicle design (e.g., crash avoidance, crashworthiness), maintenance, recalls, aftermarket vehicle equipment, commercial vehicles, unusual vehicles, automated vehicles, new and emerging vehicles, new and emerging vehicle technologies.

It should be noted that there may be significant overlap in these risk groups and contributing factors (e.g., high risk drivers and alcohol impaired driving) and that their priority may change over time. Jurisdictions are encouraged to monitor emerging issues and use appropriate interventions as needed to ensure their initiatives are effective and innovative.

Road Safety Interventions

For each risk group and contributing factor, there may be more than one intervention for promoting safer road users, safer infrastructure and safer vehicles. A combination of interventions could result in even greater improvements to safety.


Includes evidence-based jurisdictional policies, laws, and regulations intended to improve road user behaviour and the safety of the road infrastructure and vehicles.


Includes activities that provide knowledge and/or test the capacity of a person to demonstrate appropriate behaviour with respect to road safety (e.g., proactive and remedial education, driver training, child restraint training).


Includes any activities that contribute to increased awareness and knowledge of key road safety issues by the general public or target audience that may lead to safer road user behaviour. (e.g., ad campaigns, social media, etc.).


Includes activities carried out by enforcement agencies in order to apprehend offenders and to raise the perceived likelihood of being apprehended (e.g., enhanced Check Stops, Selective Traffic Enforcement Programs (STEP), intelligence-based enforcement, automated enforcement, commercial vehicle inspections).


Includes capturing and compiling complete, uniform and timely data (e.g., crash, trauma, exposure) to expedite the identification of emerging trends/issues for the further development of evidence-based road safety interventions. This also includes the evaluation of road safety measures and the monitoring of road safety indicators over time.


Includes using technology and innovation to improve the safety of the driver (e.g., installment of alcohol ignition interlock, speed and red light cameras); vehicle (e.g., electronic stability control, side curtains and airbags) and infrastructure. (e.g., Intelligent Transportation Systems, roundabouts).


Includes the establishment of linkages between jurisdictional, national or international governmental and non-governmental organizations with a vested interest in road safety. This will foster partnerships, knowledge sharing and best practice guidelines, and improve cooperation and collaboration among key road safety stakeholders (e.g., police, health professionals, etc.).