A study conducted at Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital has curiously linked unvaccinated people in Ontario to a higher number of traffic accidents, and the results were published in The American Journal of Medicine.
Nearly 7,000 traffic accidents requiring emergency care were analyzed and over 11 million people were involved in the study, with 16% of those involved not having received a COVID-19 vaccine.
Of a total of 6,682 crashes, 1,682 (or 25%) were found to have involved unvaccinated adults.
The study depicted a higher relative level of risk in unvaccinated drivers than what is typically associated with those who have diabetes or dementia. The only higher level of risk involved alcohol misuse.
"Our study demonstrated traffic risks were 50%-70% more frequent for adults who had not been vaccinated compared to those who had," said Dr. Donald Redelmeier, a principal investigator and senior scientist at Sunnybrook Research Institute.
"This does not mean COVID-19 vaccination directly prevents traffic crashes. Instead, it suggests that adults who do not follow public health advice may also neglect the rules of the road."
The findings prompted researchers to suggest that unvaccinated people examine their own driving behaviours and that family doctors talk to any vaccine-hesitant patients about it.
"We don't want unvaccinated people to feel persecuted and are not suggesting they stop driving; instead, we suggest they drive a bit more carefully," said Redelmeier. "Physicians counselling patients who decline COVID-19 vaccination could consider safety reminders so their patients do not become traffic statistics."
According to the latest data from Public Health Ontario, nearly 84% of Ontarians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
While the data does speak for itself, the study did touch on how random the correlation between traffic accidents and the choice to not get vaccinated may seem.
The study points out that having received immunization against a virus does not inherently have any "direct effect on traffic behaviour or the risk of a motor vehicle crash," but it instead theorizes that "individual adults who tend to resist public health recommendations might also neglect basic road safety guidelines."
The study's findings might ignite some debate but also some interest from insurance companies, who heavily rely on statistics like this to determine their costs.
"The observed risks might also justify changes to driver insurance policies in the future," the study says.