pedestrian deaths toronto

Increase in pedestrian deaths linked to Toronto Police issuing fewer speeding tickets

The sharp and disturbing uptick in pedestrian fatality rates across Toronto over the past five years may not, in fact, be due to the widespread adoption of Apple AirPods

Rather, say experts, the problem likely has much more to do with a lack of police enforcement against dangerous drivers.

Government data released by the Toronto Star this week proved flat out what many critics of local law enforement have been saying since late October, when Police Chief Mark Saunders revealed in a TPS Board presentation that Toronto no longer has a team of officers dedicated to enforcing traffic rules in high-volume areas.

The number of pedestrians and cyclists being killed on Toronto's streets began skyrocketing just as ticket rates for road rule violations started drastically declining.

According to The Star's analysis, police issued roughly 234,000 fewer traffic tickets in 2018 than in 2009, representing a whopping 66 per cent decline. Tickets for Highway Traffic Act violations started dropping off severly in 2013, declining by nearly two-thirds as of last year.

University of Toronto epidemiologist Dr. David Fisman told The Star in a piece published Friday that these numbers are inextricably linked.

"Post-2012, you get a profound increase in fatalities," said Fishman of the data sets. Meanwhile, "police-issued tickets dropped like a rock."

"As an epidemiologist, while I can't establish definitive causality, analyzing the data suggests the most likely cause for the increase (in deaths) was the decrease in enforcement — the number of tickets being issued."

Fisman found through his own analysis of the data that a total of 142 pedestrian deaths could be linked directly to a decline in enforcement.

"I can extrapolate from that at least dozens of deaths could have been prevented if enforcement had been kept at the 2012 levels," he said, noting that seniors are five times more likely to be killed on the streets of Toronto than anyone else.

"You can't safely be an elderly person in Toronto and cross the street without literally fearing for your life," he said.

"To me that's madness — that's not the sort of society we're supposed to be."

Lead photo by

Jason Cook


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