Impact of COVID-19 on Aggressive Driving: A population-based survey of Ontario Drivers

Author(s): Seeley, Vingilis, Beirness, Johnson, Mann, Rapoport, Wickens, Boase, Jonah

Slidedeck Presentation:

J Seeley CARSP 2022 covid aggressive driving June 10



In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) a pandemic which was followed by a series of public health measures in Ontario that included a public “lockdown” of institutions and businesses. Some evidence exists for an initial reduction in traffic volumes (e.g., de Vos 2020; Katrakazas et al. 2020; Lockwood et al. 2020) and road casualties (e.g., Carter 2020; Oguzoglu 2020; Shilling & Waetjen 2020). News coverage during the lockdown reported increased aggressive driving incidents (speeding, street racing, stunt driving, etc.,) and charges in Ontario and internationally (Fitzpatrick 2020; O’Neil 2020; Zadorsky 2020). Preliminary data from some Ontario police forces indicated increases in aggressive driving charges during the pandemic period compared to the same time period in 2019. However, limited research is available on the effects of COVID-19 and aggressive driving.


To examine the impact of COVID-19 on aggressive driving using a population-based panel survey of Ontario drivers on COVID-19 and the transportation system.


The population-based panel survey of Ontario drivers on COVID-19 and transportation system was developed using the “Expert Panel” method and questionnaire design procedures (Armstrong et al. 2006; Brancato et al. 2006; Krishner & Guyatt, 1985; Rodrigues et al. 2017; Stone 1993; Weiler, Sliepcevich & Sarvela, 1993; Wilson et al. 2012). This included five steps of specifying content, developing actual questions, constructing the questionnaire, pre-testing and field testing. The Expert Panel specified content and assessed content validity of all questions. Questions focused on self-reported experiences during the pandemic, namely: 1) driving frequency, 2) opinions on traffic and police enforcement, 2) changes in attitudes toward risky driving, public transportation use, etc., 3) driving behaviours, such as impaired driving, aggressive driving, collisions, etc., 4) distress, alcohol and cannabis use, as well as sociodemographic information including age, sex, licence type, years driving, employment situation, region, etc. The Survey Research Centre (SRC) at University of Waterloo conducted the panel survey.

Between October 15 and November 15, 2021, 1595 Ontario licensed drivers who had driven in the last year completed the online survey. The panel survey sampled by quota the following groups: 16-17; 18-24; 25-34; 35-44; 45-54; 55-64; 65-79 and 80+ year olds by sex and type of community lived in (large urban centres, medium population centres, small population centres, rural populations). Currently the data are being cleaned and sampling weights are being applied by the SRC and will be available for our data analyses mid-December. We will conduct both descriptive and inferential analyses

Statistical analyses will explore aggressive driving (speeding, street racing, stunt driving) with possible predictors including: traffic and law enforcement (stopped by police, collisions, perceptions); COVID-19 (vaccination, fear of COVID-19); substance use (alcohol, cannabis, or both); and socio-demographics (gender, age, region, driving exposure, and education).


Bivariate and regression analyses will be conducted to explore these relationships.


This study will provide us with important information on the effects of the pandemic on self-reported aggressive driving.


This study will provide us with important information on the effects of the pandemic on self-reported aggressive driving.