Police try to curb unsafe pedestrians

When it comes to pedestrian fatalities, it’s easy to blame drivers.

But Toronto Police say it’s time to take walking safety into our own hands – or feet, to be more precise.

For a week ending on Sunday, officers from across Toronto fanned out on local streets for the March Break March Safe Campaign.

Fines of $110 for failing to use a crosswalk were the hot-ticket items, with 228 offences in the city.

For Sgt. Tim Burrows of the Toronto Police, this is a perfect example of how pedestrians get hurt.

When you cross in an area where drivers aren’t expecting pedestrians, he said, your chances are greatly increased for injury or even death.

In response to the high numbers of pedestrian fatalities over the last few months, the police are hoping to use this program as an educational tool.

Constables Marc Hayford and Tim Broadhagen, both of 54 Division, spent the week on bikes in the Danforth area handing out information and tickets.

For Broadhagen, making people aware of how to safely interact with traffic is key.

“It’s not the car you see,” he said. “It’s the car you don’t see.”

Both officers are surprised by people’s unsafe habits for the sake of a few saved minutes.

“It takes less time to walk to a crosswalk than it takes for the ambulance ride to the hospital,” Hayford pointed out.

The police believe the public has been receptive to the campaign.

“The vast majority (of jaywalkers) accept the ticket. They know they’ve made a mistake,” Burrows said.

In East York, 10 tickets were handed out to those who failed to use a crosswalk during the campaign.

For Lorne Malloy, a resident of Aurora, a ticket on the Danforth was a good reminder of the rules.

“I agree with it. (There have been) something like 14 deaths in Toronto from this type of thing,” he said. “It is a good idea.”

The program did not stop at pedestrians. East York also had the second-highest rate of people driving with suspended licences — 13.

As well, 26 tickets were handed out for red light offences and one driver who failed to stop for a school crossing guard.

Burrows is quick to point out one strong achievement for the program.

“During the week, we had no pedestrian fatalities,” he said.

But will the program have the desired effect? That is up to the people.

“Will I stop jaywalking?” Malloy asked. “I don’t know.”