Lower speed limits improved pedestrian safety in parts of Toronto, study finds

The study found reducing speed limits from 40 km/h to 30 km/h resulted in less collisions involving pedestrians. Getty Images

Reducing speed limits on some residential streets in Toronto has resulted in improved pedestrian safety for those areas, a new study has found.

The study, which was published in BMC Public Health, looked at the effect reducing the speed limit to 30 km/h from 40 km/h had on some Toronto streets.

The study focused on streets in central Toronto and East York neighbourhoods that implemented slower speed limits in 2015 and 2016.

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The reductions were associated with a 28 per cent reduction in the number of police-reported collisions on those roads, the study found.

“We’re seeing that the speed control intervention makes a difference to the human outcome,” said Dr. Andrew Howard, one of the study’s authors.

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“For this set of roads, this intervention worked quite nicely.”

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A 67 per cent reduction in the number of collisions involving serious injury or death was also observed.

“I think this is consistent with what we know about speed,” Howard said.

“At a higher speed, the consequences of a collision are greater. A pedestrian who is struck at 30 km/h does not have a high chance of dying of that collision.

“But a pedestrian who is struck at 60 or 70 km/h, the chances of dying when you’re struck at that speed are approaching a hundred per cent. By reducing the speed, you reduce the lethality if a collision occurs.”

Howard said while other factors may have partly played into the reduction in collisions, he believes it is mostly associated with the reduction in speed.

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“We can probably expect speed-related interventions to have similar effects if they’re done in other places,” he said.

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