Pedestrian deaths spike in Toronto, police stay mum on charges
A 22-year-old woman was killed by a truck at Bathurst and Eglinton Friday, pushing the total number of pedestrians killed on Toronto streets this year to 34.
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Pedestrians have accounted for 59 per cent of Toronto road deaths this year, a big increase compared to the recent past.
The latest victim — a 22-year-old woman hit by a tanker truck as it was turning at Eglinton and Bathurst on Friday morning — pushed the death toll to 34. Police have not said if the driver of the truck, which hit the woman in a crosswalk, will face charges.
Pedestrian deaths have jumped 90 per cent this year compared to 2011, considered a low point with 18 pedestrians killed in a total of 35 road deaths, Toronto police Const. Hugh Smith said.
The numbers are staggering. Between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31 this year, 1,513 pedestrians were hit, Smith said. In the last four weeks alone, four pedestrians have been killed.
The trend helped prompt a police-led public awareness campaign called Do the Bright Thing, encouraging pedestrians to do what they can to be visible.
“We have to put ourselves in the position to be seen,” Smith said.
Meanwhile, a coalition of Toronto activists is running its own campaign calling for increased penalties for people who hit vulnerable road users like pedestrians, cyclists and people using mobility devices.
“It’s unacceptable what’s happening on our roads,” said Albert Koehl, a lawyer who volunteers with the coalition.
More than 100 pedestrians have been killed in the last three years, he said.
Asked how many pedestrian crashes have resulted in charges this year, Smith told Metro the information wasn’t immediately available. Despite repeated requests, police also have not been able detail charges laid after more than a dozen people were hit during a rainy morning commute on Oct. 28.
Not knowing makes it harder for community members and leaders to work toward preventing more deaths, Koehl said.
“When someone dies on the road, you’ll get the media report, you’ll get the police report, and that’s the end of it,” he said.
Truck sideguards could save lives, report says
There’s an easy way to prevent many pedestrians and cyclists from being killed by heavy trucks, but Canadian governments have been passing the buck instead of passing a law, say road safety advocates in Toronto.
Patrick Brown and Albert Koehl, both lawyers, are calling for a law making side guards mandatory on the vehicles.
Side guards prevent pedestrians and cyclists from winding up under the wheels or caught in the undercarriage if they are hit by a truck as it’s turning.
Toronto doesn’t have to wait for a federal law, Brown said. The city could pass a bylaw that would restrict heavy trucks without side guards from using its roads.
The city should take the lead on the issue, he argued, because turning trucks are particularly dangerous in urban areas. Koehl said there’s evidence lives could be saved, pointing to an Ontario coroner’s review of 11 deaths.
“In almost half of these, the pedestrian came into contact with the side of the truck. Side guards on heavy trucks may prevent pedestrians from falling under these vehicles,” the report said.
In the European Union, the guards have reduced deaths and serious injuries, according to the report.
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