Senior Pedestrians at Risk

Senior Pedestrians at Risk

Six people are hit by cars every single day in Toronto. In 2018, 41 pedestrians were killed by cars (and that number excludes the ten victims of the terror attack by a so-called “incel” who purposely targeted pedestrians in North York in April.) 190 people have been killed on city streets in the past five years. Pedestrian accidents in Toronto continue to be a problem, despite recent efforts such as the City’s “Vision Zero” plan and its successor, “Vision Zero 2.0.”


In other cities, notably London, Stockholm, Edmonton, and New York, pedestrian deaths are declining, but the numbers in Toronto remain much too high at 1.3 fatalities per 100,000 residents. There is a wide variety of factors that contribute to Toronto’s pedestrian deaths. These factors include:

  • Jaywalking
  • Street design and infrastructure
  • Increased hours of darkness in fall and winter months
  • Bad weather
  • Driver distraction
  • Impaired driving
  • Speed limits
  • Ice and snow on roads or sidewalks
  • Failure to enforce driving laws
  • Rush hour
  • Occasions that cause disruption or chaos such as Halloween night, championship games, New Year’s Eve, or “spring forward” and “fall back” time zone changes

But when you look closely at the figures, there is another obvious factor that puts pedestrians at risk: age. More than half of the pedestrians killed in 2018 were over the age of 60.


Why Seniors?

The Vision Zero website notes that between 2005 and 2016, there were 869 seniors killed or seriously injured in a collision with a motor vehicle. Since 2010, seniors are the group that’s topped the list of fatalities every year. Of the 41 pedestrians killed in 2018, 34 of them were over 40, and 22 of them were aged 60+. It’s obvious that seniors are at a greater risk of dying on Toronto city streets than the rest of the population. But what are the reasons, and how can the city address them?


One of the most common challenges for seniors is mobility. Decreased mobility can mean that seniors can have difficulty crossing the street at intersections in the time allotted. It can also mean that jaywalking can be particularly deadly. And jaywalking is a big problem, particularly in the GTA – especially in areas such as Scarborough, Etobicoke, and Mississauga. Not only are there fewer crosswalks on stretches of major suburban streets, but drivers tend to speed on them. In a 40 km/hour zone on Renforth Drive in Etobicoke, cameras caught a car going 202 km/hour. A Toronto Life article noted that in areas like Midland and St. Clair in Scarborough “there are often groups of pedestrians crowding on medians “Frogger-style”, waiting for a light to change and traffic to slow so they can race across.” In these conditions, seniors are at a definite disadvantage.


There are numerous ways that this factor could be ameliorated. The most effective way to cut down on pedestrian deaths is to lower the speed limit on city streets -- and to enforce those lower speed limits rigorously. Adding more crosswalks or controlled intersections so that there aren’t hundreds of metres between crossing spots can help to reduce the incidence of jaywalking. Some crosswalks are very wide, and lengthening the amount of time pedestrians have to cross can help; another tactic is to reduce this distance by installing curb extensions on either side of the street. Vision Zero also calls for identifying “senior zones” near retirement homes or other areas where there is a high concentration of older adults. These zones would feature a variety of measures; in addition to some of the tactics already mentioned, a senior zone might include improved street lighting, advance green for pedestrians, “Watch Your Speed” signs, red light cameras, increased enforcement and improved pavement markings.


Some of the Vision Zero recommendations have been implemented. But if we want to see the numbers of pedestrian deaths decrease, there is much work yet to do.


What to Do

If a family member has been injured or killed in a car-pedestrian accident, you may be able to obtain compensation. Consult with a personal injury lawyer to find out what your options are, but be sure to do so as soon as possible, since there are time limitations on taking legal action. Most personal injury law firms offer a free initial consultation during which you can explain the circumstances of your case and learn more about your options regarding filing an insurance claim or launching a lawsuit.


Personal injury or wrongful death cases are complex, and choosing the right personal injury lawyer can make a great difference to your life. These professionals are knowledgeable about both medicine and law, and they can provide support to your family during a tough time. Because most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, you will not be charged by the hour, but you will rather agree to pay your lawyer a percentage of any settlement you receive.


Pedestrians in the city are at risk for personal injury, especially if you are a senior. Consult with a personal injury lawyer today, and learn more about your family’s options if you have been injured in an accident.

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