PEDESTRIAN-CAR COLLISIONS ON THE RISE IN HRM

by Mark Raftus

This article provides an update to a January 22, 2016 article I wrote for the McKiggan Hebert personal injury blog titled Good News in the Battle Against Pedestrian-Car Collisions”.

In this article I concluded pedestrian-car “accidents” were on a decreasing trend in Halifax in 2015. Sadly, it does not appear the trend has continued in the three-plus years since the article was penned.

In the article I updated the statistics from my December 23, 2014 article Pedestrian-Car Collisions: An Epidemic in Nova Scotia showing the number of pedestrian-car collisions in Halifax had increased from 2013 to 2014 with attributed causes ranging from poor weather to poor visibility.

In order to combat this rise in “accidents” I suggested increasing vigilance on the part of both pedestrians and car drivers. I noted one consumer advocate suggested if more tickets were issued collisions would decrease based upon data reviewed from other provinces who went the route of issuing more tickets.

I reported there was, however, good news for Halifax in 2015 as according to police statistics there were 54 fewer incidents than in 2014 which represented a 21 percent drop from 2014. This drop in numbers involved 262 incidents with 156 crosswalk collisions in 2014 falling to 208 incidents involving 122 crosswalk collisions in 2015. There were 217 total people struck with five fatalities in 2015.

Increase in fines hopes to decrease Pedestrian-Car Collisions

In December, 2015 the HRM  increased its fines for jaywalking from $410 to almost $700 in an effort to try to combat car-pedestrian collisions by placing more of an onus on pedestrians. I remarked at that time it would be interesting to see if the increased fines motivated pedestrians to be more careful.

Unfortunately, it does not appear from a review of the HPD statistics that has been the case.

Recent Pedestrian – Car Collision Stats

A review of the HRM police vehicle/pedestrian collision reports from January 1, 2016 to June, 2019 reveals the following statistics:

  • 2016 – 206 incidents involving 215 pedestrians with 145 reporting injury with 0 fatalities and 125 of the incidents occurring in crosswalks;
  • 2017 –  219 incidents involving 225 pedestrians with 160 reporting injury with 0 fatalities and 148 of the incidents occurring in crosswalks;
  • 2018 –  218 incidents involving 230 pedestrians with 154 reporting injury with 4 fatal injuries and 142 of the incidents occurring in crosswalks;
  • 2019 – as of this mid-June, 2019 writing statistics are only available up to the end of March, 2019 but over this 3 month period [one-quarter of the year] there were 56 incidents involving 57 pedestrians with 35 reporting injury with 1 fatal injury and 36 of the incidents occurring in crosswalks; Extrapolating these statistics by a factor of four to account for the full year results in statistics largely the same as in 2018.

When reviewing these statistics it appears car-pedestrian collisions overall and in particular those in crosswalks have not reduced from the 2015 level and in fact have increased from the 2015 level despite the increase in jaywalking fines.

Taking into account the fact in October, 2018 HRM installed what they refer to as “advanced pedestrian lights” at six high-pedestrian traffic intersections in the City – five in Halifax and one in Dartmouth these statistics are even more dismal.

I also reported in a Fall, 2018 article titled Autumn Changes – Advanced Pedestrian Lights and the new Traffic Safety Act” that fines for distracted driving under the Act would increase from $295 to $410 and licenses would be suspended automatically for up to six months if the distraction results in a serious injury or death. It remains to be seen if this increase in fines against drivers will result in fewer collisions with pedestrians as the initial statistics for 2019 do not bear that out.

The cause for the increase in pedestrian-car collisions since 2015 and in particular those in crosswalks is not known precisely at this point in time although distraction by smart phone technology is likely a key factor for pedestrian and car driver alike.

We all have to do a better job to ensure pedestrians are safe on our Nova Scotia streets.

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