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Could targeted publicity effectively reduce pedestrian accidents?

Auto-pedestrian accidents are a serious problem in the GTA and across Canada, and it can be difficult to understand why. After all, every driver has the legal duty to take reasonable care, and all they need do to avoid hitting pedestrians is to watch for them and STOP.

Nevertheless, among all those involved in Canadian traffic accidents, pedestrians account for around 14.5 percent of all serious injuries and 15.6 percent of all traffic fatalities, according to the most recent national data available from Transport Canada. The most recent Ontario-specific data found that in 2013, an estimated 4,270 pedestrians were injured and 91 were killed in Ontario alone.

Is there any action society could take to make a real difference?

Communication focused on specific intersections worked in San Francisco

The City of San Francisco is among many that have recently adopted a "Vision Zero" plan meant to reduce the number of pedestrian accidents. As part of that plan, the city tested the idea of targeting an enforcement and public information campaign at specific problem intersections.

The test campaign focused on four specific intersections known to be dangerous for pedestrians. Advertisements with the slogan "It Stops Here: Pedestrians Have Right of Way" were placed only on buses and billboards in the areas leading up to the intersections. Pamphlets were distributed and community meetings were held in the area, and police increased traffic enforcement at the four intersections.

The result was a 3- to 4-percent improvement in the rate at which drivers yielded to pedestrians at the four targeted intersections. At four control intersections, drivers yielded far less.

What could that mean for pedestrians? Three to four percent may not seem like a big improvement, but at peak commuting times in a city as large as San Francisco it could mean 419 more drivers yielding to pedestrians every single hour.

"This could result in hundreds of avoided collisions, some of which might have caused injuries or deaths," said a spokesperson for the city's Municipal Transportation Agency.

Could a similar effort work in the GTA? Only time and political will can tell.

If you, a friend or a family member are victims of someone's negligence and suffering from injuries and losses, contact us to speak to one of our lawyers to know your rights and what steps you should be taking in order to protect your rights for the future.

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