By: Donald Barrie
The number of pedestrians struck by cars in Toronto was on the rise as 2019 drew to a close. On average, six pedestrians are hit by a car each day in the city, totaling 2,190 accidents per year. While there is no consensus on accurate final figures for 2019, it is known that 80 percent of pedestrians who were killed as a result of being struck were older adults or seniors.
The Toronto Star reported that the city hit a one-year high in 2018 in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities. There were 40 city-wide pedestrian deaths in 2018. Meanwhile, the pedestrian fatality rate has steadily increased over the past 10 years, according to Toronto police statistics recorded between 2008 and 2018. In 2019, there were 42 pedestrians hit and killed by drivers, as per Toronto police data.
Early on in 2019, Toronto mayor John Tory launched Vision Zero 2.0, a road safety plan aimed to lower speed limits and make pedestrian crossings safer. So far, it has not had as much success as intended as the city's pedestrian fatality rate remains high at 1.3 per 100,000 residents. The goal of Vision Zero is to have zero injuries and deaths, not reduced injuries or deaths.
In New York, the implementation of a Vision Zero program with a budget of $2.7 billion over 10 years saw a drop in accidents. In Toronto, the revised road safety program has called for the installation of photo radar to attempt to lower casualties as it is clear that a more aggressive and stringent program of road safety measures is needed to reduce pedestrian fatalities.
Any changes to road safety would require the combined efforts of both the municipal and provincial governments, along with pedestrians exercising more caution. Some people object to the suggestion that pedestrians be more cautions, believing that it is an example of blaming the victim. However, simply relying on government safety and prevention programs is only part of the solution. It is important that pedestrians remain conscious of their own safety when crossing streets to maximize protection and well-being.