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CAA-Quebec concerned over province’s rising pedestrian death toll

Pedestrians and cyclists cross Sherbrooke Street in downtown Montreal. CP PHOTO/Ryan Remiorz

CAA-Quebec says it is concerned about worrying statistics regarding pedestrian deaths following a report issued by the province’s automobile insurance board, the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), on May 8.

Pedestrians and cyclists were the most vulnerable users on Quebec roads last year. CAA-Quebec noted that the 71 pedestrian deaths in 2019 represented an increase of 18.7 per cent compared to the average over the past five years.

The SAAQ recorded 70 pedestrian deaths in 2018, 75 in 2017, 60 in 2016 and 44 in 2015.

READ MORE: Number of fatal collisions on Quebec roads in 2019 the lowest in 10 years, SQ says

Meanwhile, new cars are better designed to protect pedestrians in the event of a crash, most notably thanks to more efficient automatic emergency braking devices.

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Marco Harrison, road safety expert and director of the CAA-Quebec Foundation, said theories explaining the increase in pedestrian deaths should be studied. This includes drivers distracted by vehicle technology, infrastructure safety and recklessness and distraction from pedestrians.

Harrison said he predicts that the sharp drop in the number of vehicles on the province’s roads during the COVID-19 pandemic will improve this year’s road safety report. However, he hopes there will be more measures to protect pedestrians.

READ MORE: Speeding on empty streets amid COVID-19 spurs warnings from police

The SAAQ’s road report for 2019 recorded a total of 333 deaths in Quebec, which is 22 fewer fatalities than the previous year.

The worst year was 1973: 2,209 deaths were recorded even though there were fewer drivers and cars on the road.

— With files from Global News’ Kalina Laframboise