Canada’s largest city, Toronto, is home to more than 2.7-million people, making it the fourth most populous city in North America. Every day, City Hall must ensure each of those people can get from point-A to point-B, a monumental undertaking. As the city’s population surges, the dangers of traveling in Toronto have become apparent to city officials, law enforcement, and personal injury lawyers: 77 people lost their lives in traffic accidents in 2016, including 43 pedestrians, the most in more than a decade.
In response to the rising tide of traffic deaths, the City of Toronto launched an $80-million “Vision Zero” safety plan last year. Vision Zero is a global movement that originated in Sweden and aims to completely eliminate traffic fatalities.
On May 3, 2017, government representatives and advocacy groups gathered at Toronto City Hall for the second annual road safety summit to assess the efficacy of the city’s safety push and identify areas of concern.
Personal injury lawyers in Toronto are well-aware that last year’s trends have carried over to 2017, where there have been 20 traffic deaths already, including 11 pedestrians, more than half of whom were over 60. Eight drivers and car passengers have also been killed on Toronto roads, as well as one motorcyclist.
So, what is being done to address this serious public safety issue? The city’s plan includes six areas of priority: pedestrians, school children, senior citizens, cyclists, motorcyclists, and addressing aggressive and distracted driving. With these areas in mind, the city has so far installed hundreds of reduced speed warnings and re-drawn pavement markings at intersections in more than a dozen “pedestrian safety corridors.”
It has also ‘made physical modifications to 14 intersections, increased pedestrian walk times at 37 intersections, and installed five automated “watch your speed” signs in school zones,’ the Toronto Star reports. The creation of “senior safety zones” and dozens of new red light cameras are expected in the near future.
“We’re working very closely with the police to identify where the highest place of incidents are and we’re tackling those areas of Toronto first,” said Councillor Jaye Robinson, at the summit, according to the CBC. “It only takes a couple bad weather events where we have a lot of rain and a situation where it’s dark and the visibility is low and the outcome is terrifying.”
Advocacy groups present at the summit raised a number of concerns that mirror those of many Toronto personal injury lawyers, including action on marijuana-impaired driving and improved infrastructure for vulnerable road users.
Toronto is becoming more densely populated with each passing year, which means more cars, bicycles, and pedestrians sharing increasingly crowded roads. The city has a responsibility to provide safe, efficient transportation and transit options to its millions of residents. Though Vision Zero sets out lofty goals, recent traffic fatality statistics confirm that Toronto has a long way to go before its road users are effectively protected.