Issue: Pedestrian injuries
In Canada, pedestrian injuries are one of the leading causes of injury-related deaths for children 14 years of age and younger.
Problem: Speeding and pedestrian safety
Unfortunately, speeding is common in Canada. According to the Traffic Injury Research Foundation:
- 2.7 million Canadians admit to often driving well over the speed limit.
- Two million admit to frequently accelerating to get through a traffic light.
- 670,000 say they take risks while driving, just for the fun of it.
Children are more likely to be struck by a car in areas with higher speed limits.
A pedestrian struck by a car travelling at 50 km/h is five times more likely to be killed than a pedestrian struck at 30 km/h.
Solution: Speed reduction
Changing attitudes and behaviours
Drivers cannot accurately determine their own speed while they are driving and, as a consequence, may not slow down when they see people.
Alerting drivers when they are speeding can be very useful. According to Transport Canada, 72 per cent of Canadian drivers endorse roadside warning signs that tell them when they are speeding. A combination of speed cameras and fines can enforce speed limits in residential areas and school zones.
One study found that when warning signs, cameras and police are in place, the number of vehicles travelling more than 10 km/h over the speed limit dropped by 70 per cent.
Changing physical environments
Physical changes or barriers can discourage speeding and have a significant impact on the number and severity of pedestrian-related crashes.
A Danish study found that traffic calming reduced pedestrian injuries by as much as 60 per cent. Traffic calming measures include:
- Speed bumps
- Road narrowing
- Adding pedestrian islands or curb extensions (bulbouts)
Communities more conducive to walking have fewer pedestrian injuries. These communities have environments that promote walking by making routes attractive (e.g., trees and trails) and safe (e.g., sidewalks and crosswalks).
Increased pedestrian numbers also heighten driver awareness, which can result in speed reduction and fewer pedestrian injuries.
Recent studies have shown that trees also reduce speed. They shield pedestrians from moving into traffic, while clearly defining the roadway edge. Tree-lined streets can help drivers to visually assess, and consequently reduce their speed.