Board of health to debate lowering speed limits
Published Sunday, April 29, 2012 6:27PM EDT
The Toronto Board of Health will hear Monday a proposal to lower speed limits on residential city streets to 30 kilometres per hour.
The recommendation came last week from Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David McKeown, who also suggested that the new city-wide speed limit should be 40 km/h, unless marked otherwise.
In a report, McKeown wrote that lowering speed limits would significantly reduce the likelihood of death when a pedestrian is hit by a car.
According to research cited by McKeown, a pedestrian hit by a vehicle travelling 50 km/h has an 85 per cent chance of dying. If someone is struck by a vehicle travelling 30 km/h, the likelihood of death is only five per cent.
But some are questioning whether reduced speed limits would actually encourage drivers to slow down.
"I think the public has a real problem with that," Ward 34 Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong told CTV Toronto. "I don't think they believe it's necessary."
Every year, approximately 2,000 pedestrians are injured in vehicle collisions across the city, according to police reports.
"A lot of these pedestrian fatalities are a direct result of inappropriate action on the part of the pedestrian or distracted driving on behalf of the driver," said Brian Patterson, president of the Ontario Safety League.
Lower speed limits have been introduced in some other Canadian cities to test their effectiveness in reducing fatalities and serious injuries on the roads.
In Edmonton, for example, speed limits were reduced by 10 km/h in some neighbourhoods.
In sprawling London, England, there are hundreds of zones where the speed limit is 30 km/h, designed to encourage more pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
If the Toronto Board of Health approves McKeown's recommendations Monday, the issue could go before city council for debate on May 8.
With a report from CTV's John Vennavally-Rao