Let’s start off with some good news. In 2020, the Ministry of Transportation reported a decline in the number of pedestrian-vehicle accidents from the previous year. That said, what is the cause of most pedestrian injuries and fatalities? Even though the number of people injured in pedestrian accidents declined from 4,117 to 2,858 in 2020, there’s still an urgent need to address the leading causes of pedestrian fatalities in Canada’s biggest city. In addition, there have been concerns such as the limited space on the road in a growing city where motor vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians converge, and infrastructure updates are not adequately funded. There are legislators, city planners and victims’ advocates proposing various solutions to address these issues.
While there are other causes of pedestrian fatalities, such as poor visibility, pedestrian distractions, and drunk driving, most of these accidents are caused by driver negligence, a situation that is almost always preventable. Unfortunately, vulnerable road users face significant danger on our roads because of drivers who have no respect for traffic laws. As injury lawyers in Toronto, we support initiatives such as harsher penalties for those found guilty of dangerous driving and more stringent enforcement of the existing traffic laws.
What Are the Main Causes of Pedestrian Fatalities?
It is unfortunate that some pedestrian-vehicle accidents go unreported because the victims fail to report the incident to the police. Most of the catastrophic pedestrian accidents are caused by negligent drivers.
The term driver negligence is often used to describe a situation where the driver acts without a reasonable level of caution, resulting in another motorist, pedestrian, or passenger injury. Common examples of driver negligence that could result in pedestrian fatalities include failing to stop at a red light or failing to use the vehicle’s turn signals.
Negligent driving has left victims with hefty medical bills, lost income, and for those who don’t survive, they leave behind their families who were depending on them for financial, physical, and emotional support. Regardless of the case, victims of pedestrian fatalities can work with an experienced wrongful death lawyer to get some compensation for their losses.
When a driver takes their eyes or focus off the road, such as when using a mobile phone, eating or applying makeup while driving, it increases the chances of a pedestrian accident. Another common cause of pedestrian accidents is when drivers fail to yield to pedestrians when making a turn or going through a crosswalk. All these factors constitute negligent driving, and the persons responsible should be held liable for their actions.
Other causes of pedestrian fatalities in Ontario
Vehicle’s speed: Pedestrian accidents Toronto statistics also show that accidents could occur when the driver is driving too fast in certain conditions even though they’re not exceeding the speed limit. An example is when driving too fast on a road with poor visibility.
Pedestrian distractions: Pedestrians too could be distracted, such as when talking on the phone or listening to music while crossing or passing the sidewalk.
Physically challenged persons & senior citizens: Some pedestrians, such as those who use mobility devices like wheelchairs or canes & senior citizens, are more likely to be involved in pedestrian accidents than those without mobility challenges.
Drug and alcohol use: Pedestrians who have physical or cognitive impairment after taking drugs or alcohol are also more likely to be victims of pedestrian fatalities in Ontario.
Pedestrians’ violation of traffic laws: Examples include failure to use the designated crosswalk or ignoring the traffic signals at an intersection, which could also result in serious fatalities. Other causes include a pedestrian who darts in front of the vehicle, whether intentionally or not, failure to wear reflective gear, especially at night or when the pedestrian disrupts the normal traffic flow.
Driver confusion: This mainly occurs when the driver is unfamiliar with the territory she/he’s driving in, mostly in one-way streets or busy cities.
Aggressive driving: This is another common cause of pedestrian accidents, especially in busy cities like Toronto, where drivers are more likely to violate traffic signals, drive at unsafe speeds, and display road rage.
How to Reduce the Risk of Pedestrian Fatalities in Toronto
The number of pedestrians killed on public roads in Toronto has been declining, albeit gradually, in the last 3 years. In 2019, there were 39 pedestrian deaths in Toronto, a decline from the 41 deaths recorded the previous year. 2020 saw 21 pedestrian deaths reported by the police, a drop that is mostly attributed to the decreased traffic levels during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2016, the city adopted an initiative dubbed the Vision Zero strategy, whose aim is to eliminate pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries on Toronto’s roadways. The Advanced Signals Program was then started to install head start signals at busy intersections, making pedestrians more visible to drivers and helping reduce Toronto pedestrian deaths 2021. These head start signals give pedestrians five seconds to cross before any cars are allowed to enter the intersection.
Since then, 500 head start signals have been installed, and the city expects to install even more this year. Another initiative that has been put in place this year to enhance the city of Toronto pedestrian safety is introducing a left turn calming pilot. The goal is to help slow down left-turning drivers, especially at busy intersections, since most drivers will look to their left for oncoming cars before turning left and forget to look right for pedestrians. There are still more measures that the city can incorporate, such as narrowing traffic lanes as part of the Vision Zero strategy to ensure everyone gets home safe, unharmed, and alive at the end of the day. How drivers and pedestrians can help reduce pedestrian fatalities
Pedestrian accidents are preventable. We’ll share some tips on how both a pedestrian and driver can help avoid the consequences of pedestrian accidents.
As a driver, you should:
- Keep your eyes on the road: Pull over to the roadside if you want to use your mobile phone. A 5-second distraction from reading a text message or taking a call can result in a devastating pedestrian crash.
- Keep your speed down: Toronto is a busy area that’s often crowded with people and pedestrians who are not always careful about how and when they cross the street. You can only react fast enough if you’re not overspeeding.
- Watch out for the road conditions: If driving on a bad road, during poor visibility caused by rain or fog, slow down and keep your windows clear of obstructions.
- Be patient: One of the worst habits that negligent drivers have, which contributes to pedestrian fatalities every year, is failing to stop entirely at crosswalks. It’s important to allow pedestrians ample time to cross the street. Be patient – leave early to your destination to avoid rushing through busy streets. There may be senior citizens or disabled people who may take a longer time at crosswalks, so stop the car entirely to allow them to cross.
As a pedestrian, you should:
- Always look both ways before crossing the street: This is the oldest road safety rule that children are taught. Look both ways before crossing, even if you have the right of way.
- Use sidewalks whenever available: Sidewalks were created to enhance pedestrian road safety, especially in busy streets. In areas that don’t have sidewalks, walk towards traffic so that you can see the oncoming traffic and move out of the way.
- ● Make eye contact with the driver when you can: Research shows that a driver is less likely to hit a pedestrian after they have made eye contact. This is especially important in busy streets.
- Make sure the driver can see you before you cross the road in areas where visibility is poor: You can do this by waving your hand, avoiding crossing in dark areas and moving to a lighted area. You should also wear bright clothing or reflectors when crossing the road at night. This will help alert drivers of your presence.
- Pay attention to drivers and always be patient: Wait for the signals at intersections before you cross. Only cross when the light completely changes.
What Types of Injuries Are Common From Pedestrian Accidents?
The most common injuries that occur during a pedestrian accident affect the lower extremities. They involve trauma to the ligaments, lacerations, pelvis fractures and broken bones. The other part of the body that is typically impacted during these accidents is the neck, face, and head, especially if either of them strikes the windshield or hood. This can result in vertebrae injuries, jaw fractures, neck injuries and skull damage. Injuries on the upper extremities are less common, but they may occur, affecting the abdominal area or chest. We’ll take a look below at the most common injuries from pedestrian accidents.
Traumatic brain injuries: Victims of pedestrian accidents are at high risk of TBIs, mostly head and brain injuries. These are often life-threatening injuries with symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, fatigue, and loss of consciousness. These symptoms can be moderate to severe, and in most critical cases, victims suffer difficulty speaking, loss of coordination, mental problems like depression and anxiety, which have lifelong consequences.
Fractures and broken bones: Pedestrian accidents also frequently cause broken bones on the hands, legs, shoulders and back. Serious bone fractures can be extremely painful and change the victims’ lives forever. In fact, there are cases where victims of pedestrian accidents have been amputated due to critical fractures and broken bones.
Spinal cord injuries: Another serious consequence of a pedestrian accident is a spinal cord injury resulting in paralysis or even death. Survivors of spine injuries often experience life-altering changes since many of them suffer serious mobility issues and require long-term care.
Soft tissue damage: These injuries are among the most common in pedestrian accidents. Most soft tissue injuries will take a short time to heal, but they sometimes result in severe pain, scars and long-term problems. Examples of such injuries include strains, sprains, dislocations, contusions and tears.
Traumatic asphyxia: This is a condition that occurs when the thorax or chest is compressed, often due to the impact of the crash, causing the victim to experience difficulty in breathing and sometimes leading to death. It’s quite common in incidents where the pedestrian has been run over by a vehicle travelling at high speed.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, contact our lawyers immediately to help you get compensated for your injuries. The lawyers at Avanessy Giordano LLP come with decades of experience in pedestrian accident cases and will help put up a strong case for you and your family.