Texting while driving to blame? Pedestrian deaths up 40% in Quebec in 2016

Last year, 63 pedestrians were killed in Quebec, compared to 45 in 2015, according to a report by Quebec's Transport Ministry and the province’s automobile insurance board, the SAAQ.

Spike in pedestrian fatalities comes as overall road death toll falls to near-record low

Vito Nardo's sister was killed by a truck in August 2016 when she was walking on Parc Avenue. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

Pedestrian deaths were up 40 per cent in Quebec last year over 2015, according to a report by Quebec's Transport Ministry and the province's automobile insurance board, the SAAQ.

In 2016, 63 pedestrians were killed in the province, compared with 45 the previous year.

One of the pedestrians killed was Barbara Nardo-Morandi, who was hit by a truck at the intersection of Parc Avenue and Bernard Street last August.

Vito Nardo is still reeling from the loss of his sister, who used to live in the apartment just below his.

He said he believes speeding motorists and people who text and drive are to blame for the growing number of pedestrian deaths.

Motorists who are caught texting and driving face a $120 fine and four demerit points. In January, a Quebec coroner recommended that penalty be increased to nine demerit points.

Nardo said he would like to see Montreal lower the speed limit on busy streets like Parc Avenue, but he's doubtful that will happen.

"The city's never going to do anything. They do what they want to do. They don't ask pedestrians what they want," Nardo said.

Overall, road deaths, injuries down

Despite the spike in pedestrian deaths, Quebec's road safety record for 2016, released Tuesday, shows overall, fewer people died or were injured on Quebec's streets and highways than all but one year since 1946.

The report said 351 people were killed on the province's roads last year, which is 11 fewer than in 2015.

Its authors credit increased police vigilance to ensure road safety.

In the first half of 2016, deaths and injuries were trending upwards, the report said. 

Seeing that, the government decided to bolster police efforts to crack down on dangerous driving — a move which the report concludes helped to neutralize that negative trend. 

with files from CBC's Sarah Leavitt