Experts concerned about collision-related fatalities in Mississauga, Brampton, and Ontario

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Published June 25, 2021 at 5:37 pm

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The Ontario Good Roads Association (OGRA) is urging the Ontario government implement a provincial Vision Zero Strategy in order to eliminate road injuries and fatalities.

Currently, the Region of Peel has a Vision Zero Strategy, which has a short-term goal of reducing collision fatalities and injuries by 10 per cent by 2022, and a long-term goal of eliminating both entirely.

However, according to Thomas Barakat, Manager of Public Policy and Government Relations for OGRA, eliminating collision-related fatalities is an achievable goal, not just wishful thinking.

“This strategy is not aspirational—it’s something that has been achieved in other cities across the world. If you look at parts of Scandinavia, they have actually seen fatalities among road users drop to zero. So it’s not just something that sounds good, it’s actually achievable according to empirical evidence, but in order to achieve it, it requires strong leadership, and different levels of government working together,” Barakat said in an interview with insauga.com.

According to the latest data from the Ministry of Transportation, there were more than 33,000 fatal collisions in Ontario in 2019, including more than 1,900 in Peel Region.

The summer months—June, July, and August—were particularly bad, as there were more than 3,000 collisions during each month.

According to Barakat, a Vision Zero Strategy would take into account human error on the roads. “It acknowledges that all humans are going to make mistakes, whether that’s a driver, or a pedestrian, or a cyclist—and it builds it into the system,” he says.

Additionally, Barakat stressed that, in order to achieve the desired result, all levels of government need to buy into the program.

“We need the Province to help achieve this, because there are some things that municipalities can’t do on their own. For example, municipalities don’t have the authority to change a law. There are also restrictions on what municipalities can and can’t do. One such example being the automated speed enforcement, which was recently implemented in school zones in parts of the GTA. Before 2016 and 2017, municipalities weren’t even allowed to implement that, they had to ask the Province for permission to do so,” he says.

In order to achieve this goal, there would have to be changes implemented, which could include reducing speed limits—something Barakat acknowledged could cause some pushback.

“Certain streets need to be a certain speed limit. While people might be upset about it, the safest speed for side streets is 30 km/h. The scientific data suggests if you get hit at that speed, the chance of survival is much higher than even getting hit at 40 or 50 km/h,” he says.

Further, Barakat suggested, reducing speed limits but improving efficiency wouldn’t create longer commute times, it would actually shorten them.

“What we should be prioritizing is not the speed, but the efficiency of the system. Having fewer collision on the roads makes a difference—every crash blocks a lane and slows down the flow of traffic,” he says, “I think if you were to ask people if they would they rather see traffic flow improve, or speed limits stay the same, they’d probably prefer the former.

In late-May, Peel Regional Council passed a motion mandating the Regional Chair send a letter to both the Minister of Transportation and the Associate Minister of Transportation requesting the Province create a task force group to advise on how a province-wide Vision Zero Strategy can be developed and implemented in Ontario in order to provide consistent guidance for municipalities.

“Peel Region is working towards the Vision Zero goal, but in order to achieve it, the Region needs a provincial partner,” Barakat says.

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