Chief Coroner Releases Pedestrian Death Review

 

The Chief Coroner for Ontario has just released the Office of the Chief Coroner’s Pedestrian Death Review.

In 2010 there had been a rash of pedestrian deaths. The review was initiated after Patrick Brown of McLeish Orlando LLP and enviromental lawyer, Albert Koehl gathered a coalition of interested groups and requested a review of cycling and pedestrian deaths within the province.   Last summer, the Toronto Star posted Patrick and Albert’s request and later that fall, after several meetings, the review was launched.   The purpose of the review was to examine the circumstances of the deaths that occurred from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2010 and make various recommendations. The report itself was dedicated to the 95 Ontarians who lost their lives in preventable pedestrian collisions in 2010.

The review resulted in 26 recommendations covering many areas and includes:

• Reduced speed limits in residential areas and amendments to the Highway Traffic Act
• Adopting  ‘Complete Streets’ aprroach to ensure the roadways are designed and maintained for all users including pedestrians and cyclists
• Installing side guards on heavy trucks
• Creating more pedestrian crossings, longer times to cross, and developing a “walking stratedgy for Ontarians”
• Educating drivers on the scenarios that can lead to a pedestrian collision
• Increasing enforcement

The Executive Summary in the Review concluded as follows:

WHO?

• Pedestrian deaths were slightly more prevalent in males (55%) than females (45%).
• Pedestrians over 65 years of age accounted for a strikingly disproportionate share of fatalities based on their representation in the population. They account for about 13.2% of the population, but 36% of the fatalities.
• Children accounted for 3% of the deaths.
• Males were driving the motor vehicle in 67% of the fatalities.
• The peak ages for these male drivers was 25-54 years of age.
• Charges were laid in 30% of the fatalities, both Criminal Code and Highway Traffic Act.

WHEN?

• Peak hours for pedestrian collisions were between 2 pm and 10 pm daily, largely coinciding with peaks in traffic volume.
• It was dark or twilight for 57% of fatal pedestrian collisions.
• Pedestrian collisions were generally more frequent Monday to Friday, when traffic volumes are highest.
• January was the peak month for pedestrian collisions leading to fatalities for Ontarians.
• Visibility was clear 95% of the time for fatal pedestrian incidents.
• Road conditions were dry for 81% of the incidents, wet for 14% of the incidents, and snowy for 5% of the incidents.

WHERE?

• 76% of fatalities occurred in urban areas and 24% in rural areas.
• 75% of pedestrian fatalities occurred on arterial roads, which are wide, signalized streets that carry high volumes of traffic.

HOW?

Five pedestrian circumstances accounted for 70% of deaths:
• Pedestrian hit at a mid-block location while crossing (31%).
• Pedestrian hit on the sidewalk and/or shoulder of the road (14%) .
• Vehicle was going straight through the intersection while the pedestrian crossed without the right-of-way (11%).
• Vehicle turning left while the pedestrian crossed with the right-of-way at the intersection (7%).
• Vehicle turning right while the pedestrian crossed with the right-of-way at the intersection (7%).

In addition to the above five mechanisms, a significant number of pedestrians were struck by a heavy truck (12%) or a public transit vehicle (9%).The cause may be decreased visibility of pedestrians to drivers of trucks, and with pedestrians entering and exiting public transit vehicles.

WHY?

Several areas which stood out as causal in these deaths:
• Vehicle Speed
• Distractions
• Failure to Yield by the Driver
• Crossing Against the Signal
• Mid-block Crossing
• Pedestrian Disabilities
• Driver Inattention
• Alcohol and/or Drugs in Drivers
• Alcohol and/or Drugs in Pedestrians

McLeish Orlando LLP and Patrick will continue to work with the coalition to ensure that these recommendations and those from the Cycling Review are adopted and the number of pedestrians and cyclists killed on our streets are reduced.  The Coalition that Patrick and Albert represented throughout the reviews included  Cycle Toronto, Hoof and Cycle, 8-80 Cities, Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists, and the United Senior Citizens of Ontario.  We applaud these groups, the Office of the Chief Coroner, and all the stakeholders who stepped forward to make our province safer.

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