Toronto traffic fatalities hit 14-year high

According to statistics provided by Toronto police, there have been 75 traffic fatalities so far this year — the highest they’ve seen in nearly 15 years.

In a push for safer roads, police launch ad campaign targeting pedestrians

Only two people were taken to hospital with injuries that were not serious in this crash in April. Many others weren't as lucky this year. (Submitted by Barton Wigg)

Car crashes have killed at least 75 people in Toronto this year — the highest number of annual traffic fatalities seen in the city for 15 years, according to statistics provided by police.

"We were on a downward trend pretty much since 2002," Const. Clint Stibbe told CBC Toronto. "That year we had 97 fatalities."

Pedestrians make up a majority of the fatalities this year, the statistics show. About 41 pedestrians have died in a collision in 2016.

Police say seniors are more at risk to be killed by a vehicle, with 27 of the pedestrian fatalities involving these older adults.

Seniors make up the bulk of the fatalities, because they can't withstand injuries as well as someone who is younger, Stibbe adds. 

"The older you are, your body can't recover as quickly," he said.

While the number of traffic fatalities has fluctuated over the years, more pedestrians are typically killed than drivers and passengers in cars, cyclists and motorcyclists.

Pedestrians targeted in safety campaign

In late November, Toronto police released a new public safety campaign called #BeAlertBeSeen, which offers suggestions about how pedestrians can stay safe on the roads.

But an advocacy group called Walk Toronto has called out the campaign, saying it puts too much of the blame on pedestrians rather than drivers.  

"Our concern is that in two-thirds of collisions with pedestrians, the pedestrian has the right of way and it is driver behaviour that's at fault," Walk Toronto spokesman Dylan Reid told CBC Toronto in November.

The ads have also drawn ire on social media where some have made tongue-in-cheek posts referencing the campaign.

Stibbe acknowledged this campaign has been focused on pedestrians, but said police have already cracked down on driver error.

"We need to keep in mind that enforcement by our officers throughout the year primarily focuses on offences drivers commit," he said. "We enforce disproportionately higher numbers of infractions against drivers than we do pedestrians."

And he said the tips in the public safety campaign can still save lives.

"By focusing on the pedestrians to pay attention when you're at the intersection — to be aware of what's around you — it's essentially giving you the opportunity to do something to keep yourself safe," Stibbe said.

With files from Kate McGillivray