Pedestrian injuries, deaths in Toronto unacceptable

Pedestrian fatalities is a major concern for Humber College. (Photo: Creative Commons/Marjan Smeijsters) Pedestrian fatalities is a major concern for Humber College. (Photo: Creative Commons/Marjan Smeijsters)

Over 1,500 pedestrians have been hit by moving vehicles in Toronto in 2015 and 34 have been killed. One of those was a fellow journalist here at Humber College.

Pedestrian safety in Toronto is a daily news story and ongoing issue. Whatever you want to blame it on – vehicular speeding, pedestrian carelessness, distracted driving – we’ve passed the time to begin taking action and do something about these unnecessary injuries and deaths. Three people in their twenties died in one week last month in this city. As we head into the winter season there is a concern growing for how many more accidents we will face.

We’re not going to go on about safe driving in the snow or putting your phones down or not drinking and driving. We’ve done that and hope everyone has minimally changed such habits by now. Instead, we want to enforce the most basic lesson in driving: keep your eyes on the road. Pay attention to the cars, pedestrians, animals and cyclists, especially as driving conditions become unsafe with inclement weather.

It’s fair to say the newsroom at Humber has taken a special interest in this topic after a classmate was recently killed in a Brampton early-morning hit and run. What we’re realizing is these issues are ongoing, people are always being affected, but large numbers of us aren’t always advocating until it impacts our lives. Until you have a close call, or worse you are in the accident, you assume it’s all “those bad drivers out there.” All the young people on their phones. All the new drivers. Anybody, except you, could be that reckless.

It’s a busy time of year. In fact, it’s always a busy time of year in Toronto. People have places to go, things to do and Netflix to get home to. Somehow, this has allowed pedestrians to stop paying attention to cars, buses and streetcars. It’s also prevented drivers from paying any attention to the pedestrians walking, even when they have the right of way. The blame can’t be placed one group, but it needs to be put to a stop now.

How many people are going to be hit, injured and killed before people care enough to slow down, abide by the speed limits and pay attention?

Toronto is trying to help by implementing slower speed limits in residential areas. According to a Toronto Public Health report, between 2009 and 2013 there were 77 pedestrian fatalities when the speed limit was 60 km/h. And where the speed limit had been lowered to 30 km/h? Zero pedestrian fatalities in four years and only 43 non-fatal accidents. There is an obvious correlation between speed and fatalities that needs to be dug into and responded to immediately. If these are the results, what is stopping Torontonians from joining together and demanding lower speed limits to protect our pedestrians?

As mentioned, the blame cannot be put purely on drivers. Pedestrians have to do their part. Jay walking, crossing the street on a red light and generally just not paying attention to where cars are going are huge issues in this city. It’s time to actually focus and slow down for two minutes until the street light changes for you.

Think about your driving habits this winter when the weather gets bad. Be good drivers, be aware and be safe, Humber!

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