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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Stagg

Slowing Down & Saving Lives

Photo by Ali Tayyebi on Unsplash

Toronto is a city plagued with traffic problems. On certain days, the tension is palpable, especially that which exists between especially pedestrians and drivers, even cyclists and pedestrians. The reality is, however, that pedestrians almost always come out on the losing side. With pedestrian injuries and fatalities still sitting at dangerous level, some city councillors are taking action that has already proved beneficial.

As noted in an article for the Globe and Mail, researchers and safety advocates have long argued that reducing the speed limit can save pedestrian lives:

"Pedestrian deaths tend to happen more on roads with faster traffic, in keeping with research showing that, on average, chance of death goes up 11 per cent with every one-kilometre increase in impact speed. While a person hit at 30 kilometres an hour is overwhelmingly likely to survive, someone hit at 50 km/hr is probably going to die."

Despite this research, the city of Toronto has been reluctant to reduce speed limits, arguing in return that it is not a solution that will work on its own.

The theory was put to the test recently, however, when councillors from the old cities of Toronto and East York voted to reduce the sped limit from 40 km/h to 30 km/h on much of their streets. The results, published this week by BMC Public Health, show that the decrease had an impact... and a big one.

"Researchers... found that 28-per-cent fewer pedestrians were hit by motorists on these roads after the speed limit was reduced. The number of people on foot killed or seriously injured on these roads plunged 67 per cent."

The results of the test are incredibly encouraging, showing a real way forward for Toronto in the midst of its ongoing struggle to reduce pedestrian fatalities. Toronto is a city that has committed to a Zero Vision safety program, and if it has any real chance to meet that commitment, safety advocates believe that taking the results of this test seriously and reducing speed limits city wide is a priority.

For more on the results of the test, read the original article by Oliver Moore in The Globe and Mail.


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