Collisions, traffic-related deaths decline in Edmonton, report shows

Traffic specialists in Edmonton say deaths and serious injuries related to collisions have dropped in the past few years.

Fatalities went from 27 in 2017 to 19 in 2018, city says

The city installed 65 new driver feedback signs, shown to reduce speeding by up to 12 km/h. (Trevor Wilson/CBC)

Traffic specialists in Edmonton say deaths and serious injuries related to collisions have dropped in the past few years.

A new report posted Thursday to the city's website shows 19 people died from traffic-related collisions in 2018, down from 27 in 2017. The number serious injuries fell from 341 to 319 over the same period.

The statistics are outlined in the city's progress report on Vision Zero, an initiative aimed at eliminating traffic-related deaths by the year 2032.

Edmonton was the first Canadian city to adopt Vision Zero, after city council approved the initiative in 2015.

Since then, the number of traffic collisions, property damage, minor injuries and serious injuries and fatalities have gone down.

Serious traffic-related injuries have gone down since Vision Zero started in 2015. (City of Edmonton)

The city has undertaken dozens of safety initiatives under Vision Zero. It's upgraded controls at 20 pedestrian crossings and installed traffic safety measures at 27 schools, such as zebra-marked pedestrian crossings, rapid flashing beacons, and driver feedback signs.

The 65 new driver feedback signs have shown to reduce speeding by up to 12 km/h, the report says.

The city also put in left-turn only green arrows at 13 intersections and installed five pedestrian scramble intersections, where traffic is stopped in all directions and pedestrians all walk at the same time, including a diagonal crossing.

Gerry Shimko, the executive director of traffic safety for the city, said despite the progress, even one death on the roads is too many.

"They are people's families — fatalities, serious injuries, we still have more work to do."

Coun. Andrew Knack said the progress is encouraging but agreed that there's still a long way to go to improve safety.

"I would hate for us to say 'hey the work is done,'" Knack said.

More than 80 neighbourhoods are waiting for traffic-calming measures, he noted.

Under Vision Zero, the city has also talked to residents in 20 neighbourhoods about traffic safety.

Shimko said public education is an important part of changing the road safety culture for the better.

"Making sure you have safety practices at home, safety practices on the roads as well as at work," he said.

"Unfortunately it takes very serious injuries to remind people that we are vulnerable."

Photo radar effect

About 89,000 fewer photo radar speeding tickets were handed out in 2018 compared to 2017.

Shimko believes city council is willing to explore other ways to raise money for road safety improvements, since revenues from photo radar have dropped.

The initiative, which includes policing costs and money for the road safety strategy and the traffic safety section at the city, costs $79.7 million for 2018.

He said the city will continue collecting data over the summer before releasing an updated crosswalk priority list by the end of the year.

Council's community and public services committee is expected to review and discuss the Vision Zero report next Wednesday.

Shimko said they will be looking for direction from council on where to get funding for future traffic safety upgrades.

@natashariebe

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