Advertisement

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.
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.

READ MORE: Toronto council asks staff to adapt traffic safety plan to target heavy trucks, enhance school zones

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.

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

Story continues below advertisement
Latest Toronto pedestrian death spurs calls for action
Latest Toronto pedestrian death spurs calls for action

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.

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