2016 was a dangerous year on Toronto’s roads; is there reason for hope?

By all measures, 2016 was a dangerous year on the streets of Toronto. Seventy-seven people were killed in automotive accidents around the city, with pedestrians most at risk: 43 people died after being struck by cars, up from 38 in 2015 and the highest total in more than a decade. After 24 pedestrians were struck in a single day in December, Mayor John Tory was forced to call an emergency meeting with city officials and police to acknowledge the issue and discuss what action to take moving forward.

If you or someone you love has been injured in an automotive accident, contact the car accident lawyers at Will Davidson LLP today. We have decades of personal injury litigation experience, and can help you access the compensation necessary for a successful recovery.

What’s Happening?

While a record number of pedestrians were struck and killed in 2016, high fatality numbers were also recorded in 2013 and 2015, and neither the public, nor city officials, nor car accident lawyers or law enforcement fully understand why. Toronto’s rapidly growing population may account for some of the spike, but that population growth is occurring primarily downtown, where walking is actually safest.

The rising age of Toronto’s population is a more likely culprit. Senior citizens accounted for nearly 70 per cent of all pedestrians who were killed in 2016. Distracted driving is another cause for concern, as drivers who use electronic devices behind the wheel are approximately four times more likely to cause an accident.

“It’s obvious that drivers aren’t sufficiently aware of, or afraid of, the consequences of being distracted while behind the wheel,” said Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca through a statement from his staff.

Larger automobiles may also play a role. Pedestrians struck by SUVs are more likely to die than those struck by smaller vehicles.

Reason for Hope?

Reports of pedestrian injuries have not slowed since the beginning of the year, but there is room for optimism: both City Hall and Queen’s Park have introduced new legislation that should improve road safety in Toronto. The City’s new head of Transportation Services, Barbara Gray, is committed to protecting vulnerable road users.

“If people feel safe and comfortable walking, they’re going to make that choice more frequently,” Gray told the Globe and Mail. “And it they are required to walk then we, I think, have a responsibility to try to make those routes safe. Especially to those places they’re going to walk most frequently: to transit, to the grocery store, to medical services, to social services.”

On January 10, Mayor Tory and Councillor Jaye Robinson, Chair of the city’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, introduced 45 new road safety measures which will come into effect this year. As part of the City’s Vision Zero Road Safety Plan, their aim is to eliminate fatalities and reduce serious injuries,

“The number of pedestrians and cyclists injured and killed by vehicles in our city last year is both alarming and unacceptable,” Mayor Tory said. “We must do more to prevent these deaths and protect our residents across the city.”

Safety measures include the creation of Senior Safety Zones at high-priority locations; the installation of dozens of new red light cameras and accessible pedestrian signals; geometric safety engineering improvements; road safety audits; and the expansion of the Watch Your Speed program.

“I’m very encouraged by the attention pedestrian safety is having now among the public and elected officials,” said activist David Stark, whose wife was killed when she was struck while walking in 2013, to the Globe and Mail. “I think people realize we do not have to have fatalities on the road.”

Injured? Call Will Davidson LLP’s car accident lawyers today

While the City of Toronto’s goal of eliminating road fatalities is a noble one, improving safety to that degree will take time and patience. In the meanwhile, vulnerable road users and motorists will continue to experience injuries in traffic accidents. If you or someone you love has been seriously injured, contact the car accident lawyers at Will Davidson LLP today. Our team can help you grasp your legal standing and advise you on your next steps forward.

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