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‘Worst collisions that we see’: Trauma doctor sparks discussions around pedestrian safety in HRM

Click to play video 'Nova Scotia doctor wants province to consider banning turning right on red' Nova Scotia doctor wants province to consider banning turning right on red
WATCH: A critical care and trauma doctor in Halifax has sparked conversations around safety concerns regarding transit busses turning right on red lights. The discussions has since evolved to include potentially banning all vehicles from turning right at major intersections. – Sep 13, 2019

After witnessing several close calls, a critical care and trauma physician in Halifax has raised concerns around pedestrian safety in the Halifax Regional Municipality.

Specifically, Dr. Rob Green points out the risks that come from right-hand turns being allowed on red lights at major intersections.

“They (pedestrian) are some of the worst collisions that we see. So, there’s no protection when a pedestrian is struck by a motor vehicle and, if you look on the spectrum of our trauma patients, they are on the severe spectrum and a significant number pass away,” said Green, the senior medical director of Trauma Nova Scotia.
Dr. Rob Green is a trauma and critical care physician who says vehicle pedestrian trauma is a major issue in the province. Alexa MacLean/Global Halifax

Green says his main concern is with Halifax Transit buses making right-hand turns on red lights.

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READ MORE: Cyclist struck, reportedly dragged under vehicle in Halifax

He questions whether or not they should be allowed to do so at major intersections.

“It’s not a new problem, I’ve witnessed it for at least 15 years in downtown Halifax. One of the things that I think we should discuss is looking at why buses turn right on red lights and if that is important, and if we reduce the right turns, does that translate into better pedestrian safety,” he said.

His comments have sparked some support.

While downtown Halifax Coun. Waye Mason doesn’t think banning transit buses from turning right on red lights is the answer, he’s not opposed to reevaluating where right-hand turns should be disallowed in the municipality.

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“My daughter’s in school in Montreal and they have no right turn on red and I think it’s much safer for pedestrians in urban areas. I’m not convinced we need it everywhere and I don’t think it would be appropriate to do it just for transit but I do think the peninsula, downtown Dartmouth and main streets ⁠— banning right turns on red would be much safer,” Mason said.
Waye Mason is councillor for downtown Halifax and is in support of reevaluating where right hand turns on red lights should be banned in the municipality. Alexa MacLean/Global Halifax

Dr. Green says the conversation isn’t rooted in a new idea but the discussions have led to a petition being created to advocate for the change.

“According to our historical data in HRM, around 40 per cent of all incidents where pedestrians are hit are at these signalized intersections,” said Martyn Williams, with HRM Safe Streets for Everyone. “So right on reds is part of the conversation about how we make them safe for pedestrians to cross. At the moment they’re not.”

READ MORE: Vulnerable road users raise safety concerns over number of collisions in Halifax area

Williams says the historical data is generated from police reports that have been analyzed by the municipality and published in pedestrian safety reports.

Williams hopes at the very least, people will take note of discussions aimed at increasing road safety for vulnerable road users.

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Dr. Green agrees.

“I think it’s important to have the conversation. I don’t know 100 per cent of what’s right here but I do think the conversation informed by the literature and what other jurisdictions do across Canada and the United States would be useful,” he said.

WATCH (July 26, 2019): Halifax pedestrians, cyclists say more action needed for road safety

Click to play video 'Halifax pedestrians, cyclists say more action needed for road safety' Halifax pedestrians, cyclists say more action needed for road safety
Halifax pedestrians, cyclists say more action needed for road safety – Jul 26, 2019