NORTH BAY -- New statistics have found there were fewer vehicle crashes on roads patrolled by the Ontario Provincial Police in northeastern Ontario last year, compared to 2019. But there also have been more deaths as a result of these crashes.

Police are reminding the public to stay vigilant when behind the wheel, or tragedy could occur.

“In northeast region, we had 38 people that were killed as opposed to 2019 where we had 32,” said OPP Sgt. Carlo Berardi.

It’s a troubling find for frontline officers across the province. Police say they continue to see what they call the Big 4: inattentive driving, impaired driving, lack of seatbelts and aggressive speed.

“Our fatalities have increased (and) these fatalities could have been avoided,” said Berardi. “But because of the Big 4, that’s why we have these fatalities.”

Police link five deaths in both 2019 and 2020 to motorcycle crashes in the northeast. Most of the crashes are actually single-vehicle and relate to speed and failing to yield the right of way. Police remind both motorcyclists and drivers to share the road.

“It’s still unacceptable, but they haven’t increased,” said Berardi referring to the crash statistics. “Spring is on its way and we will see more motorcyclists. They have to be aware of their surroundings.”

Motorcycle enthusiast Randy Hall agrees. He is encouraging new motorcyclists to sign up for a training course.

“You really need to practise and know what’s around you,” said Hall. ”I used to love riding on two-lane highways. Now I’m more nervous about it simply because of vehicle distractions.”