A prominent New Brunswick doctor is calling on all municipalities to reduce speed limits in residential areas and areas with high pedestrian traffic from 50 km/h to 30 km/h.
Dr. Paul Atkinson chairs the New Brunswick trauma program's research committee and is an emergency physician at the Saint John Regional Hospital.
"I'm not suggesting this would be sensible right across the city," Atkinson said. "But where there are lots of people crossing I believe a speed limit of 30 km/h would be safe."
In New Brunswick, pedestrians being struck by vehicles leads to more than 350 emergency department visits per year in addition to nearly 50 hospitalizations and more than 15 permanent disabilities.
"We know that in Canada on average, over 400 people each year are killed — pedestrians are killed by vehicles. That has been decreasing but I think we can improve on that," said Atkinson.
In addition to the emotional toll that accidents between vehicles and pedestrians take, the health care services are costing taxpayers $3 million every year which is something Atkinson believes would change by simply reducing speed limits.
"This is about improving safety for our pedestrians, for our elderly people, for our children in urban environments," he said.
Pedestrian-vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death of children under the age of 14 across Atlantic Canada.
Saint John councillor supports lower speed limits
Saint John councillor Donna Reardon has been pushing for lower speed limits in her city since earlier this year when she pitched the idea of reducing the speed limit on all city streets to 50 km/h.
"For me it's just a no-brainer that a slower speed will reduce your accidents."
Currently there are between 20 and 30 streets in Saint John with speed limits higher than 50km/h.
The city's traffic and pedestrian services are studying the proposal.
"If you want your cities to be liveable and you just don't want cars whipping through them you need to slow things down so people get a look, people will feel safer when they're walking," said Reardon. " I think it's the right thing to do."