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Pedestrian Accidents in Toronto

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Pedestrian Accidents in Toronto

Drivers in Toronto are notorious for bad driving habits, and are often cited as the worst drivers in Canada. 

 

Pedestrian Accidents in Toronto

 

Before the first month of 2019 was over, six pedestrians had died on Toronto streets, putting us on track for one of the worst annual death tolls ever. As CBC Radio’s Michael Enright noted, in 2018 more pedestrians in the city were killed by vehicles than the number who died in the infamous SARS epidemic of 2003. On one single night --November 1, 2018, -- seventeen pedestrians were struck in the GTA. Ironically, it was the first day of Safety Awareness Month in Ontario. For every pedestrian fatality, many more pedestrians suffer injuries ranging from minor to very serious.

 

Distracted Drivers and Vulnerable Pedestrians

Drivers in Toronto are notorious for bad driving habits, and are often cited as the worst drivers in Canada. They run stop signs, they cut off cyclists, they go through amber lights. They drive too fast – and as the adage goes: “Speed kills.” Drunk driving, though greatly reduced from decades ago, continues to be a problem in the city, especially late at night. And research from the U.S. indicates that in states where cannabis is legalized, pedestrian deaths rise by nearly 20%.

 

Another factor contributing to the rise in pedestrian deaths is distracted driving. Despite stringent new rules for cellphone use, drivers continue to text while driving, with deadly consequences. Reprogramming GPS devices while driving is also a hazard.

 

In addition, the situation in the GTA is remarkably complex. Drivers must cope with heavy traffic much of the time, with pedestrians who may or may not be crossing the street properly, and with a growing number of cyclists. At some intersections, confusion reigns. The Toronto Star watched driver behaviour at Richmond and Bay for a few hours, and found many drivers violating the law.

 

But it’s not only drivers who are at fault. In addition to bad driving, pedestrian behaviour contributes to accidents. Just as driver concentration impaired is by technology, there’s a rise in “distracted walking”. Pedestrians looking at their phones - texting or talking while crossing the street – are far more likely to be hit than those paying attention to their surroundings. Similarly, just as drunk drivers are more likely to get into an accident, drunk pedestrians make poor choices that can lead to them being struck. Pedestrians often jaywalk, and sometimes do so in darkness, wearing dark-coloured clothing.

 

Statistics also indicate that seniors are far more likely to be struck by vehicles than younger people. With the aging of the Baby Boom generation and advancement in medical treatments, our population is older than ever. In 2016, nearly 70% of Toronto’s pedestrian fatalities were seniors. Seniors may be slower than other pedestrians, may be cognitively or physically impaired, and may be more likely to stumble or hesitate. When seniors are hit, they suffer more grievous injuries than younger people, and their recovery time is longer and costlier.

 

Reducing Vehicle/Pedestrian Accidents

Toronto has some unique challenges in the effort to reduce pedestrian fatalities. These include:

  • High volume of commuters. Many of the people who come into the city for work live in the suburbs, and commute by car.
  • Although the transit system is expanding, it’s overburdened and crowded at rush hours.
  • Winter in Toronto is long, and people are travelling in darkness throughout many of the winter months.
  • Bad weather may impair visibility during winter months.
  • Our downtown streets are narrow and were not designed to accommodate large volumes of traffic.
  • The observance of Daylight Savings Time may contribute to accidents on those days when the clock changes.
  • A very busy downtown environment that includes bike lanes, cars, pedestrians, and a lot of signage.
  • Long stretches of road without crosswalks in suburban areas.
  • As previously noted, pedestrian accidents have been found to increase in jurisdictions where cannabis is legalized.

One of the ways in which the government may be able to combat the rising death toll involves getting drivers to slow down. This might be accomplished through lowering speed limits, plus adding physical elements such as speed bumps or red light cameras. Improving infrastructure for pedestrians might also help to improve safety; this might include installing more crosswalks, or lengthening crossing times at wide intersections. Strictly enforcing existing laws regarding distracted driving could help to bring pedestrian accident numbers down. First-time distracted drivers in Ontario may face a penalty of up to $1,000, which will serve as a deterrent if drivers feel it is frequently enforced. More rigourous driver education could also help to cut down on accidents.

 

Pedestrians face daily danger on Toronto and GTA streets. If you or a family member has been injured by a vehicle, there are some actions to take that will help to ensure that your insurance claim is successful. The best thing to do when someone has been injured is to document the accident scene as well as you can, and then call a personal injury law firm. A personal injury lawyer will provide you with a free consultation and can provide guidance regarding claims or filing a lawsuit. 

2 comments
Level 4 (XP: 1150)
5 months ago
i really dont see this getting any better with the rise of mobile device use :(
Level 12 (XP: 6950)
Pedestrian accidents in Toronto are becoming more common as the use of mobile devices is increasing. Know what your rights are and make sure to get help from a team of lawyers with your best interest at heart.