Reduce speeds, Ontario coroner urges
Pedestrian fatalities are far more likely to occur in areas where cars drive at higher speeds and the province should consider lower speed limits on unmarked residential streets, according to a report released Wednesday.
The Pedestrian Death Review, compiled by Ontario’s chief coroner, was released on Wednesday in response to a spate of 95 pedestrian fatalities that occurred across the province in 2010.
Dr. Bert Lauwers, the province’s deputy chief coroner told reporters on Wednesday that the issue has become an increasing problem.
“The issue touches all our lives. Each one of us here today has had a family member, a friend, an acquaintance or fellow worker -- someone we know who was struck by a motor vehicle,” he said.
Marie Smith, a member of the group United Senior Citizens of Ontario, spoke of an acquaintance who lost her walking partner in a pedestrian collision.
“A year ago my friend was involved in a horrible pedestrian collision,” said Smith. “She was crossing with a green light, when she was struck from behind by a car turning left. Her 56-year-old walking partner was thrown over the car and killed instantly.”
So far this year 17 pedestrians have been killed as a result of a collision with a vehicle. Last year the number was 12, reports CTV Toronto’s Janice Golding.
Dr. Andrew McCallum, Ontario’s chief coroner, said the goal of the report was to identify commonalities between the deaths, and recommend ways to avoid future deaths.
"This review highlights that pedestrian deaths are preventable,” McCallum said in a statement. “Speed, distraction and inattention are only some of the contributing factors to these deadly encounters. Everyone has a responsibility to follow the rules of the road as well as a responsibility to one another so we can all stay safe."
The study found that 67 per cent of pedestrian deaths occurred on roads with speed limits above 50 km/hr, and only five per cent occurred on roads below 50 km/hr.
Pedestrians over the age of 65 accounted for 36 per cent of fatalities, but only account for 13.2 per cent of Ontario’s population.
The report also found that January was the most common month for pedestrian deaths, and peak hours for collisions were between 2 and 10 p.m.
Notably, 20 per cent of pedestrians killed in motor vehicle accidents may have been distracted by mobile devices.
The report makes 26 recommendations to curb the number of pedestrians killed, including the adoption of a “complete streets” approach to guide the development of new communities.
A “complete streets” approach refers to development plans that keep roadways safe and convenient for every user, including drivers, cyclists and pedestrians of every age and ability.
Lawyer for USCO Albert Koehl said that in a collision, no matter who is to blame, the pedestrian remains more vulnerable.
“It’s worth remembering that in a collision between an automobile and a pedestrian, whether the pedestrian makes the mistake or the motorist makes the mistake, it’s always the pedestrian who loses -- sometimes at the expense of his her life,” he said.
Some other key recommendations:
- Transport Canada make side-guards mandatory on heavy trucks
- Ministry of Transportation (MTO) allow municipalities to erect mid-block pedestrian crossings
- MTO allow municipalities lower default speed limit to 40 km/hr, or even 30 km/hr, on residential streets
- Create educational programs for senior citizen pedestrians as well as drivers
- Ontario police services should develop stronger traffic law enforcement programs
With a report from CTV Toronto's Janice Golding