On Nov. 1, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, in partnership with Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, the Canadian Automobile Association, Toronto Police Service, Ontario’s trauma centres and other road safety partners launched the new Be Alert, Be Seen initiative, a province-wide pedestrian safety campaign.
Running throughout November the initiative aims to encourage drivers, cyclists and pedestrians to pay attention, remain visible and follow road safety rules to ensure safe travel for all road users.
According to Steven Del Duca, Ontario Minister of Transportation, 40 per cent of road accidents involve pedestrian injuries. Pedestrians also represent approximately 19 per cent of motor vehicle fatalities.
“Many of these incidents occur in urban centres and pedestrians are placed at an even higher risk as we move to shorter daylight hours,” Del Duca says.
Gord Jones, Superintendent of the Toronto Police Service and Co-Chair of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police says that this year, out of the 68 people of who have died from vehicle collisions, 38 were pedestrians. These are the highest rates of collision fatalities since 2004.
“Pedestrian deaths are rising at an alarming rate in the GTA,” Superintendent Jones says. “By creating initiatives like this we can work together towards zero serious injuries and zero fatalities.”
Dr. Avery Nathens, Medical Director at Sunnybrook’s Tory Regional Trauma Centre says that his practice has seen a 21 per cent increase in pedestrian injuries from 2015. Campaigns like this are a vital part of care that he and his colleagues provide.
“It’s a reminder of the basic safety procedures that can help save lives and keep people from ever seeing the inside of centres like Sunnybrook,” Dr. Nathens says.
Dr. Nathens highlights that aside from initiatives like Be Alert, Be Seen, lowering speed limits and improving road and intersection design can also reduce the number of fatalities.
Teresa Di Felice, Director of Government and Community Relations and Driver Training at the CAA says that it is also important to use proper terminology. Using the words collision or crash instead of accident can help road users take ownership of their shared responsibility.
“Most collisions and crashes are preventable,” Di Felice says.
Be Alert, Be Seen will be holding additional events in other regions throughout Ontario. On Nov.16, the National Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims, two videos on the distracted driving and the importance of reflectivity will be released.