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An average of seven pedestrians are struck on Toronto’s streets every day.
Hours after 10 pedestrians were struck on Toronto’s streets on Thursday morning, the pedestrian accident rate had soared as eight more were struck by the evening.
Const. Clint Stibbe, spokesperson for Traffic Services of the Toronto Police Service, was unable to say whether 18 is the number for the most pedestrians struck in a day, but it was well above expectations.
“Almost three times higher,” said Stibbe.
One of the pedestrians was a 63-year-old woman, who died in hospital after she was struck in Leaside.
Another, a 15-year-old boy, remains in hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Collisions involving pedestrians spike between mid-September and mid-December, Stibbe said. The incidence dies down when the holidays start and people go on vacation.
“November will be the worst month,” says Stibbe.
“Obviously, there is something about (the day), the weather and the status of the roads and people rushing that is causing these accidents,” she said.
In September, Toronto police said that 542 pedestrians and 541 cyclists had been hit by cars since June 1. The total of 1,083 collisions means about 9.5 crashes occur every day, or one every 2.5 hours. This has increased since last year, when 999 pedestrians and cyclists were hit during the same period.
Pedestrian fatalities have increased by 34 per cent since 2005, according to the City of Toronto. One pedestrian is killed or seriously injured in Toronto every two days. Pedestrian fatalities account for about 50 per cent of total yearly traffic fatalities in the city, and 35 pedestrians have been killed in 2016 so far, Toronto Police said in a statement released Friday afternoon.
Road deaths in Toronto are increasing in general, peaking at 65 in 2015, which is an 11-year high. Stibbe says that if two more people are killed in traffic accidents this year, the number will be the most traffic-related fatalities since 2004.
In an effort to bring the incidents down, City Hall is starting up a Road Safety Plan, which will begin in January and will run until 2021.
The plan will involve creating pedestrian safety corridors in places where serious collisions frequently occur. It also proposes lowering speed limits in 54 locations, many of them on downtown arteries such as Yonge St., Bay St., Bathurst St., Queen St., Dundas St. and Bloor St.
In 28 locations, the speeds will be reduced from 50 km/h to 40 km/h, and in 24 others the limit will go from 60 km/h to 50 km/h. In two locations outside of the downtown core, limits will fall from 70 km/h to 60 km/h in an effort to increase the likelihood of pedestrians surviving a collision, the rate of survival decreasing as speed limits increase.
The Road Safety Plan aims to lower pedestrian deaths by 20 per cent over 10 years, but many are arguing that this goal is not good enough.
According to Dylan Reid, the co-founder of Walk Toronto, a 20-per-cent decrease in pedestrian deaths from 2015 would leave the number at 31, which is still higher than the 18 pedestrian deaths in 2011.
Other countries have had success with road safety crackdowns; Sweden created a road safety plan in 1997 and reduced traffic fatalities by 66 per cent between 1990 and 2011. The plan, called Vision Zero, has become national law there.