Pedestrian Traffic Fatality in Brampton
Once this past weekend again we have seen a tragic pedestrian traffic fatality, this time in Brampton. Once again the call goes out for the colour and model of the car in order to bring the perpetrator to justice. Perhaps it is time to get beyond the hand wringing and finger pointing and explore the actual contributing factors and causes that led to the tragedy, and then, learning from the experience, apply corrective measures to address and correct the factors, bot at the specific location of the accident, but then even more importantly, apply the lessons learned across the city in order to prevent future accidents everywhere. The following are the specific measures I would like to see for this and any traffic accident:
Dispatch a municipal traffic engineer to the site of the accident to identify any potential contributing factors, and to document these factors into both a specific accident report, but event more importantly, submit the critical risk factors into a province-wide database of transportation system risks
Assess the adequacy of the lighting at the location, from both the perspective of a driver and the pedestrian. If inadequate street lighting was a factor, can it be remediated by intalling another, or a better street light.
Is the street lighting in the right place or is the light cast wasted? In some municipalities, such as Cote St. Luc, Quebec, virtually all the “street” lighting is on short poles, design to broadcast light on pedestrians and sidewalks, rather than on streets, on the assumption that at night cars are supposed to have operating headlights and tail lights, and it is the pedestrians who need illumination both to see tripping hazards, and to be seen by oncoming vehicles.
Did the accident happen while the pedestrian was crossing the road? If so, was there a mid-street traffic island to allow the pedestrian to safety wait in the middle of the street in order to allow traffic traveling in the other direction to clear? If not, would the addition of a mid-road traffic island help improve safety at this location? Are there any other areas that also would benefit from the installation of road islands?
Were there outstanding roadwork repair work orders for the area of the accident? What were they? Could they have been completed faster to restore safety to the area? Was there adequate signage to alert pedestrians and drivers about any specific hazards?
Was driver speed a factor in the accident, or could it have been? Is speeding a risk factor in the area, evidenced by speeding tickets, accident and complaints? Could the street benefit from additional low cost speed limit signage? Could additional traffic lights have helped drivers to control speed and maintain alertness to road conditions? Could an automated speed annunciation sign which tells oncoming drivers what their speed is help?
Was inadequate street signage an issue in the accident? Was there proper crosswalk signage for both the pedestrian and the vehicle? Is there large, visible and clear cross-street signage to help the driver to assess their location without straining? Would additional signage to identify the local speed limit, construction, visibility limitations or other hazards help?
Are there any specific hazards in the vicinity of the accident such as road curves, hidden driveways, visibility restrictions which could have both been systematically addressed and/or provided with warning signs.
Was the accident location one where there is a lot of pedestrian crossings because of the proximity of dense housing, schools, transit facilities or the like? Does the area justify special pedestrian crossing provisions such as a marked and illuminated crosswalk?
Is the Ontario insurance bureau or the CAA aware of other accidents that have taken place at the accident scene or near it, and what accident factors they know about that they can address?
Are the relevant factors about this and other accidents being communicated widely so that all interested parties including drivers, pedestrians, driving schools, municipal transportation officials & workers, insurance companies and their clients are all aware of the specific accident hazards by publishing a traffic accident map with accident locations and some relevant details, as well as road construction work, since construction can often lead to specific short term risks? Can the map be interactive so that drivers, pedestrians, contractors can contribute directly to the database by email or phone call?
Was road or related construction a factor in the accident? If so, did the construction have adequate signage and protection using bollards and other hazard marking? Was the area left safe for both drivers and pedestrians? Was the amount of road and sidewalk blocked off the minimum required?
If these measures, and other like them, were adopted, future tragedies can we avoided or mitigated. The benefits of this are many, but would include reduction of personal grief, reduced hospital and long term care costs, reduced insurance payouts and premiums and reduced accident induced traffic jams. This is real a case of where a focus of retribution is a real case of “penny wise and pound foolish”. If we can get beyond finger pointing and hand wringing, we can improve the quality of life for our of our citizens.