Don’t pay the cost to cross

Toronto police safety blitz targets rise in pedestrian fatalities this year

David was in such a hurry to work, that he almost didn’t make it.

“All I was thinking was how angry my boss would be if I was late for my shift,” David, who asked that his last name be withheld, said in a recent interview.

He was in a rush to catch a bus on Pape Avenue, when he ran  across Carlaw Avenue from behind a parked vehicle. He barely escaped being hit by an SUV.

“Their car just missed, probably by four or five inches,” he said, adding “looking back at it now, being late would have been better than not making it at all.”

As of March 24, Toronto had recorded 11 traffic fatalities in 2015, with nine being pedestrians, six more than this time last year. In response to the increase, the Toronto Police launched a March Break pedestrian safety campaign to raise awareness about the increase in traffic fatalities involving pedestrians.

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“We will be paying close attention to crosswalk violations, intersection-related offences, jaywalking and mid-block crossing locations; these are definite areas of concern when it comes to pedestrian safety,” said Const. Clinton Stibbe.

He explained that the campaign ran through March Break due to increased pedestrian traffic and risk but safety is a year-round concern.

“More youth are on roadways … so it’s a good opportunity to speak to them and try to curb risky pedestrian errors before they become habits.” He said “awareness should not end when the kids go back to school, they’re not the only ones at risk.”

Stibbe said that the nine pedestrians who died in Toronto traffic incidents this year were 50 years or older. He said that the older the population, the greater the risk of fatality.

“It takes them more time to react to protect themselves and it’s harder for them to recover from an injury because their bodies are more frail,” he said.

Marlena Lee-Katinov, walking on Danforth Avenue recently, said she worries for the largely older population of East York.

“There are a lot of mid-blocks and a lot of older people use them regularly,” she said. “All it takes is for them to step out a little too soon, or for a distracted driver to not see the flashing amber lights, and their lives could be over.”

Stibbe said this is why it is important for pedestrians and drivers to pay attention.

“Everyone makes mistakes … so as a pedestrian make sure you have the eye contact of the driver before stepping out, even if you have the right of way.

“We need to work together when we’re on the roads, not against each other.”