It has been two years since “Vision Zero” was proclaimed by Mayor John Tory as a plan to eliminate traffic deaths in Toronto by 2021. The plan is designed to focus on safety measures for the most vulnerable users of Toronto’s transportation system, including pedestrians, school children, older adults, and cyclists.

Vision Zero was designed to implement a reduction in speed limits, establish more traffic-calming measures, and enhance awareness of road safety. However, the statistics have shown that pedestrian and cyclist fatalities have not been decreasing in Toronto.

TOO MANY PEDESTRIAN LIVES LOST IN TORONTO

Vision Zero is a five-year project adopted in 2016 aimed at reducing traffic-related deaths and serious injury. Since its inception, at least 93 pedestrians have been killed on Toronto’s city streets.

Here is a sample of just a few recent fatalities involving pedestrians in Toronto that have occurred in this year alone:

  • February 2, 2018: woman in her 60s or 70s was struck and killed by a vehicle near Finch Avenue West and Islington Avenue;
  • February 27, 2018: 11-year-old struck by a vehicle near his Scarborough school;
  • April 13, 2018: pedestrian struck and killed by vehicle in Downsview;
  • May 15, 2018: elderly pedestrian struck and killed by vehicle in North Toronto;
  • June 11, 2018: 50-year-old woman was struck and killed by a driver of a pick-up truck at Briar Hill Avenue and Dufferin Street;
  • July 3, 2018: 19-year-old pedestrian died of injuries in hospital following a collision at a Toronto intersection;
  • July 26, 2018: woman struck by vehicle and killed at Eglinton Avenue West and Dufferin Street area; and
  • August 9, 2018: man struck by multiple vehicles in Scarborough.

Statistics show that the number of pedestrians killed in Toronto has steadily been on the rise in recent years:

  • 2014: 31 pedestrian deaths;
  • 2015: 39 pedestrian deaths;
  • 2016: 43 pedestrian deaths;
  • 2017: 42 pedestrian deaths.

According to Toronto police, as of June 18, 2018 there have been 17 pedestrian fatalities in Toronto. This is an increase in the number of deaths from the same time last year when there were 12 pedestrian fatalities and 21 pedestrian deaths by June of 2016.

Given the increased number of deaths on Toronto roadways, the Toronto city counsel approved $22 million for road safety action on top of the $13 million that council had approved earlier in June to implement the city’s Vision Zero road safety plan.

CITY OF TORONTO’S LATEST APPROACH – THE LEADING PEDESTRIAN INTERVAL PROGRAM

The City of Toronto is installing a “Leading Pedestrian Interval” program (“LPI”) at 80 different intersections across the city this year.  These intersections are evenly split between the city’s four districts.

LPI provides an advanced walk signal to allow pedestrians to cross the street before motor vehicles receive a green signal. This gives pedestrians the opportunity to walk before turning vehicles at intersections to protect them from vehicles making aggressive right hand turns. This will also allow pedestrians a five second head start to begin moving across the intersection before cars do, allowing them to be more visible to drivers. This program will be especially useful for children and seniors crossing busy intersections in Toronto.

The LPI program is currently in place in 12 intersections in Toronto, these include University and Adelaide, Yonge and Lakeshore, Queen and Dufferin, Bloor and Jane, Avenue and Balmoral, Mount Pleasant and Lawrence Avenue East, Davenport and Ossington, St. Clair and Christie, Warden and Manhattan (Scarborough), Dundas and Huron, Danforth and Byng (Scarborough), and Dundas and Howard Park.

Research has shown that LPIs reduce pedestrian-vehicle collisions by up to 60%.

Mayor John Tory announced these new measures recently and stated:

This is something that has been a proven success in reducing the number of collisions between pedestrians and turning vehicles in other cities where it has been implemented. …

I am confident these upgraded signals will make a difference for pedestrians – that’s why we have accelerated the Vision Zero Road Safety Plan so we can install more signals this year across the city.

DRIVERS OWE DUTY OF CARE TO PEDESTRIANS

In Ontario, drivers owe a duty of care to pedestrians. They are required to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances. Drivers are obligated to operate their vehicle lawfully, yield to pedestrians and consider how the weather conditions can affect the ability to operate their vehicle safely. Failing to follow these obligations may result in serious injury to a pedestrian and potential liability.

If a pedestrian is struck by a motor vehicle, there is a presumption of negligence against the driver of the motor vehicle. This is called a “reverse onus”, which can be found in the Highway Traffic Act (section 193). Thus, the driver and owner of the motor vehicle have the onus of proving that the loss or damage did not arise through the negligence or improper conduct of the owner/driver of the vehicle.

The reverse onus does not always mean that the driver will be at fault. If the driver can prove that the actions of the pedestrian caused or contributed to the accident, the court can find that the pedestrian was partially or even completely at fault for the collision. This will be based upon the specific facts of each case. The court will look at the actions of each party and assign a percentage of liability to each party.

If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident involving serious injuries or death due to a pedestrian and motor vehicle collision in Toronto or the surrounding areas, it is important to immediately contact an experienced personal injury lawyer.  At Jasmine Daya & Co. our Toronto personal injury lawyers can help. Contact us online or by phone at 416-967-9100, and make an appointment for a free consultation.