Mayor launches 'Slow Down Toronto' campaign in school zones

Toronto drivers are being reminded to slow down in school zones as city officials, along with police, launch a new two-week campaign to ensure children arrive at school safely following March Break.

Police warn parents that they will be 'tagging and towing' vehicles to keep children safe

Mayor John Tory said the new campaign, entitled 'Slow Down Toronto,' is aimed at motorists in a bid to lower the number of crashes that causes serious injuries and deaths. (Natalie Nanowski/CBC )

Mayor John Tory is reminding Toronto drivers to slow down in school zones as the city, along with police, launches a new two-week campaign to ensure children arrive at school safely following March Break.

Tory said the campaign, entitled 'Slow Down Toronto,' is aimed squarely at motorists in a bid to lower the number of crashes that causes serious injuries and deaths. 

"Changes in driver behaviour will be the single biggest contributor to improved safety in school zones," the mayor told reporters at Cornell Junior Public School, near Lawrence Avenue East and Markham Road, in Scarborough.

"I don't know what it's going to take for people to get the fact that it's their behaviour behind the wheel of a car that's going to have more to do with improving the safety situation than will signs and zebra stripes and technology, all of which we are going to employ," Tory told reporters. 
As part of its Vision Zero road safety campaign, the city is starting a one-year pilot project in 12 school zones that will involve setting up new signs to calm traffic. (CBC)

In the campaign, which runs from March 19 to April 1, Toronto police will focus on educating motorists about the dangers of speeding, being distracted and driving aggressively, all of which can lead to serious crashes.

"The safety of all pedestrians, but particularly children, must be a priority in this city. We're trying to give it more and more and more attention with as many practical measures as we can come up with," Tory said.

"The number of people killed on our roads in a year who are pedestrians and who are cyclists should be zero. We all have a responsibility to share our streets."

Officers will be 'tagging and towing' vehicles

Toronto Police Deputy Chief Peter Yuen said at the news conference that the number of pedestrian deaths on Toronto streets is simply unacceptable.

"My message is simple: 'Slow down, folks.' All traffic accidents, all collisions are avoidable," Yuen told reporters. 
Toronto Police Deputy Chief Peter Yuen said parking enforcement officers will be 'tagging and towing' vehicles operated by parents in school zones. (CBC)

Yuen said many of the pedestrian deaths have occurred in Scarborough because the district has wide roads with a long distance between crosswalks.

Parking enforcement officers will be "tagging and towing" vehicles operated by parents in school zones, he said. He said parents will notice an increase in traffic law enforcement around school zones.

Signs coming to middle of roadways

Tory said the city will also begin a one-year pilot project in 12 school zones that will involve setting up new signs to calm traffic. 

The signs will be placed in the middle of roadways to remind drivers that they are in a school zones. He said the signs are not devices designed to control traffic or direct pedestrians and they should not be confused with pedestrian-crossing locations.

Tory said the campaign is part of the city's Vision Zero road safety plan, which the city is implementing to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries due to crashes.

The plan is focused on improving the safety of cyclists and pedestrians, including school children and older adults, and on educating drivers about the risks of aggressive and distracted driving.

Const. Clint Stibbe, spokesperson for Toronto police's traffic services, said there have been 11 pedestrian deaths in Toronto this year. Two have involved school age children under the age of 12 in school zones.