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COVID-19 pandemic played a role in safety on Edmonton’s roads: officials

Click to play video: 'Edmonton Safe Mobility Strategy update says crashes down, speeding up this year' Edmonton Safe Mobility Strategy update says crashes down, speeding up this year
WATCH ABOVE: The city has been taking steps to make Edmonton streets safe through Vision Zero since 2015. The COVID-19 pandemic reduced traffic safety incidents this year, but as a Sarah Komadina reports it also highlighted some alarming driver behaviour. – Nov 26, 2020

The City of Edmonton gave an update on its safe mobility strategy Thursday. It found COVID-19 restrictions played a huge role in road safety this year.

While there was a significant reduction in the number of crashes at the peak of the pandemic, there was concern about driver behaviour. When roads were experiencing half the normal traffic volume during the pandemic’s peak, there was a 30 per cent increase in drivers speeding 20 kilometres per hour over the limit, and a 200 per cent increase in drivers speeding 50 km/h above the limit.

Read more: Edmonton’s default residential speed limit lowering to 40 km/h next summer

Crashes involving fatalities didn’t go down. For comparison, in 2019, 14 people died as a result of a motor vehicle collision while as of November 2020, 12 people died.

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“(This) tells us things like speed and impairment continue to be extremely risky behaviour,” said Jessica Lamarre with the City of Edmonton. “Not only risky, but also illegal, and that leads to tragedy.  So there are really important features for us.”

The strategy started in 2015. The city updated the plan looking ahead to 2021-2025. It will go to council in early December.

In five years, the plan has seen progress in moving toward Vision Zero, an initiative by the city to see zero traffic-related injuries and deaths.

Since the 2016-2020 strategy, many of the dangerous intersections and streets have been identified and treated with measures to eliminate or reduce the contributing causes of crashes.  Since 2015, fatalities have decrease by 50 per cent. Serious injuries have also decreased by 30 per cent.

Lamarre said people driving vehicles and motorcycles have noticed the most safety improvements over the last five years.

Read more: Traffic-related deaths, injuries down in 2019, Edmonton report shows

“People walking and cycling haven’t seen safety increases at the same rate,” she said. “Working in the strategy moving forward shows we need to focus on those particular areas.”

The plan says the top five causes of the most severe crashes on Edmonton streets are:

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  • Drivers not yielding to people who have the right way
  • Drivers following too closely
  • Drivers turning left across the path of others
  • Drivers driving off the road
  • Drivers running red lights and failing to comply with a traffic signal

Major patterns for fatal and serious injury crashes were:

  • 80 per cent of all fatal and serious injury crashes are the result of driver mistakes
  • 69 per cent of all fatal and serious injury crashes happen on arterial roads
  • 74 per cent of intersection crashes involving someone walking or using a mobility aid happen when the pedestrian has the right of way
  • 87 per cent of bike-related serious injury or fatal crashes happen in locations without bike facilities such as protected lanes or shared pathways

The city is hoping to achieve zero traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries by 2032. Over the next five years, the Vision Zero team will engage with community members and find other ways to achieve this goal.

 

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