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Pedestrian signals are cause for confusion in Toronto

TORONTO – How complicated can traffic signals be?

Green means go. Amber means proceed with caution if you can’t stop safely. Red means stop.

But it’s not nearly as obvious when you observe pedestrians at a controlled intersection. Toronto police say thousands of pedestrians violate the letter of the law every minute of every day. They’re either indifferent to or ignorant of the law.

Constable Clint Stibbe tells Global News you are not supposed to step off the curb into the intersection if the countdown clock has begun or you see the flashing red hand. But most people we spoke to for our story thought the clock and the flashing hand was simply a warning to let you know you were running out of time.

Having reviewed our story, Toronto Mayor John Tory admits “there’s times I’m not sure” of exactly what those signals mean, so he’s suggesting the city better educate pedestrians about the proper response to the signals.

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While it may sound trivial, Toronto Police say pedestrians who disregard the rules actually contribute to the traffic congestion problems in the downtown core. Among other things, pedestrians racing against the countdown clock often delay vehicles attempting to make right turns from clearing the intersection.

Tory prefers education over a crackdown or hiking fines but notes that the sheer cost of enforcing the law would likely be more than the revenues generated from the tickets.

But he says, “It’s not really about the money. It’s about people doing the right thing.”