Pedestrian Accidents in the GTA

Edited by Admin
Pedestrian Accidents in the GTA

Approximately every four hours in Toronto, a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle.

Article Written By: Glenna M.

It’s already been a deadly year for pedestrians in the Greater Toronto Area. By the beginning of March, the GTA had clocked eleven pedestrian deaths -- and with increasing numbers of pedestrians hitting the streets once warmer spring weather arrives, it’s expected that the city is on track to set a deplorable new record.


Statistics show that between 2011 and 2016 in the GTA, 921 pedestrians have been either seriously injured or killed in accidents. In addition, thousands more pedestrians are involved in less serious accidents, escaping with minor or no injuries. Approximately every four hours in Toronto, a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle.


There are numerous ways in which municipal governments can work to improve pedestrian safety. Many of these are obvious, like installing traffic lights near places where people tend to jay-walk, or creating “slow zones” for high traffic areas or neighbourhoods where children are frequently present. Many advocates argue for a slower speed limit throughout the city (enforced by radar) as one way of making a difference. Others advocate for increasing the number and brightness of streetlamps to help prevent evening/night accidents, painting more clearly-demarcated crosswalks, instituting mandatory re-testing of drivers every ten years, or adding speed bumps in designated areas.


The Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

Some of the causes of pedestrian-vehicle collisions include:


  • Speeding. Increased vehicle speed makes the possibility of a pedestrian accident greater.


  • Jaywalking. Pedestrians who cross mid-street, or against a light are taking their lives into their hands. It’s more difficult for drivers to notice or see them, and it’s also unexpected.


  • Electronics. Both drivers and pedestrians tend to get distracted by electronic devices such as cellphones or iPods. Whether it’s a driver checking a GPS map, or a pedestrian texting while crossing the road or playing music too loud to hear a car approaching, focusing on an electronic device can be a deadly distraction.


  • Weather Conditions. Whenever the weather is bad, pedestrian accident numbers rise. It behooves both drivers and pedestrians to use extra caution during any kind of bad weather, including rain, fog, and snow. On a single overcast and rainy day in 2015, for example, sixteen GTA pedestrians were hit by vehicles!


  • Daylight Savings Time Changes. Every time we set our clocks forward in spring, there’s a spike in afternoon vehicle-pedestrian accidents. Alternately, the loss of an hour of sunlight in the fall makes the afternoon darker, which results in increased injuries and deaths.


  • Left-hand Turns. When making a left turn, a driver is often focusing on navigating the intersection and avoiding oncoming cars. Pedestrians, on the other hand, are usually looking straight ahead.


  • Alcohol/Drugs. Many accidents have alcohol or drugs as a factor – whether it’s a vehicle operator who is impaired, or a bar patron trying to walk home after a few too many drinks or tokes.


  • Vulnerability. A high percentage of pedestrians who are killed or injured represent vulnerable groups: seniors, the disabled, and children. For example, seniors comprise just 14% of the population in the GTA, but they account for 50% of the victims of deadly pedestrian accidents! Disabled people report that traffic signals usually fail to give enough time for those using a walker or a wheelchair to make it through an intersection. And as well as being more difficult for drivers to see, children may not have enough experience to cross safely in certain conditions.


  • Quiet Cars. Battery-operated and hybrid cars are great for the environment and for keeping noise down in neighbourhoods, but for pedestrians who are accustomed to being able to hear a vehicle approach, they can pose a hazard.


  • Dark Clothing. Nearly 50% of pedestrian accidents happen on the weekend, and 70% happen at night. Pedestrians planning to walk home after a late night out should wear brightly-coloured or reflective clothing, and carry a flashlight.


What to Do in Case of a Pedestrian Accident

If you’ve been involved in one of these types of accidents, it’s important to know what to do. First, call 911. Injuries suffered in a pedestrian-vehicle accident can be more severe than they appear, so it’s best to have medical professionals assess the situation. You will also need to ensure that police will visit the scene; do not leave the scene of the accident before police arrive. Don’t make any statements regarding your responsibility for the accident to anyone, including the other parties involved, any witnesses, or insurers. Do try to gather the names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident.


Once you have dealt with any urgent medical needs and the police, contact a personal injury law firm that handles accident cases. In these types of situations, there’s a time limitation on initiating any legal action, so it’s important to act in a timely fashion. Find a lawyer who has experience with accident cases who can advise you as to your options. Most times the initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer is free, and this kind of knowledgeable guidance can be life-changing.