Toronto

New road safety campaign targets drivers as winter darkness sets in

A new road safety campaign launched by the city hopes to get Toronto drivers to "take another look" for pedestrians and cyclists as the clocks fall back an hour and days grow shorter.

Ad campaign accompanies speed limit reductions on 250 km of Toronto roads

A new road safety ad campaign is asking drivers to change their behaviour behind the wheel. (John Rieti/CBC)

A new road safety campaign launched by the city hopes to get Toronto drivers to "take another look" for pedestrians and cyclists as the clocks fall back an hour and days grow shorter.

This time of year is particularly dangerous for vulnerable road users, noted Mayor John Tory at a morning news conference on Friday. 

City statistics show that pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries from collisions with vehicles generally increase by more than 30 per cent between November and March, said Coun. James Pasternak, who joined Tory at the announcement.

The campaign will include ads on television and radio, as well as on buses, transit shelters and elevator screens in city-owned buildings.

Toronto staff took inspiration from New York City, where a similar effort reduced pedestrian and cyclist deaths in the weeks and months following the end of daylight saving time, Tory said.

Clocks in Ontario will roll back at 2 a.m. Sunday.

While the campaign is aimed at all road users, it is especially targeted at drivers.

"It is going to require people to change their behaviour — for drivers in particular — to pay closer attention if we are going to achieve our goal of reducing the number of people seriously injured and lives lost," Tory said.

"Please, slow down. Pay attention. Stop distracted driving."

The ads will be accompanied by a one-week police blitz starting on Monday. Officers will be strictly enforcing road rules, with a particular focus on speeding and distracted and aggressive driving. 

At least 30 pedestrians have been killed by drivers on Toronto's streets this year, many of them seniors. 

Lower speed limits on some roads

Tory said that bad driving habits appear to be getting worse.

"People seem to be engaged in all manner of inconsiderate and unsafe behaviour, more so than might have been the case a number of years ago," he told reporters.

The mayor used the news conference to also announce that speed limits will be reduced on 250 kilometres of streets in Toronto by the end of 2019. Limits on close to 50 roads will be lowered by 10 km/h.

City staff will also be reviewing limits on all minor arterial roads with a current speed limit of over 50 km/h and all collector roads with limits over 40 km/h. Community councils will be voting on those changes before year's end.

The measures announced Friday are all part of the city's "Vision Zero 2.0" plan. The strategy was launched in March in response to what Tory called ongoing "carnage" on Toronto roads. 

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