Hamilton police targeting enforcement, roadway engineering issues amid spike in pedestrian deaths

Hamilton Police's traffic safety coordinator says with eight people passing away in just the first four months of 2022 in pedestrian incidents, the service will be keeping a closer eye on the city's top 10 collision intersections and pushing for road safety reform to curb further deaths. Global News

Hamilton police’s (HPS) traffic safety coordinator says the service will be stepping up enforcement, education and engineering campaigns this week as pedestrian-related deaths on city roadways are trending towards an all-time year-to-year high.

Cst. Stan Larkin says with eight people having been killed in just the first four months of year, HPS will be keeping a closer eye on the city’s top 10 collision intersections and pushing for road safety reform with city councillors to curb current trends.

“Our traffic safety unit will be out looking at these high collision intersections, making sure people are turning properly, coming to a stop before the crosswalk and the stop lines, and making sure their movements are done in a safe manner,” Larkin told 900 CHML’s Good Morning Hamilton.

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In 2021, the city hit its current annual historic high of nine pedestrian-related deaths. Coupled with the eight deaths so far in 2022 Hamilton is averaging one pedestrian death a month since the beginning of last year.

The matter became exasperated last week when legendary Canadian conductor Boris Brott became one of those tragedies.

Read more: Hamilton committee approves new red light camera locations

The recent events spurred the city’s top cop to take to social media on Monday, remarking the pedestrian fatalities are “too high” and that the trend “cannot continue.”

“We all need to do our part in creating safe roads,” chief Frank Bergen said on Twitter.

“That means obeying road rules and caring about the safety of others on the road.”

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Bergen said the services enforcement is generally focused on ticketing speeders, distracted and aggressive drivers and those impaired behind the wheel, but ultimately he made a plea to both drivers and pedestrians to obey rules.

Larkin says HPS and council are expected to make pushes for more physical changes to troubled roadways altering flow in addition to adding technology to aid enforcement of vehicles speeding or going through red lights.

The city’s public works division is already awaiting final approval from council for 10 more red-light cameras this year adding to the existing 32.

Roads manager Mike Field boasted that a recent traffic collision study suggested the tech has been “very successful” at reducing collisions that result in injury or death by about 65 per cent.

Since 2007, Field said the city has added about five locations every year, but this year’s new cameras will be the first implemented since the height of the pandemic.

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“In the years of 2020 and 2021, we did not install any locations partly due to the complications of COVID, so this is a catchup on those past two years,” Field told the public works committee last week.

Hamilton Center for Civic Inclusion director Kojo Damptey, who’s spearheading an online campaign to adopt traffic calming measures, believes roadway engineering, safety audits and public awareness are the best solutions since it’s too overwhelming a matter to leave with patrol officers.

Read more: 1 dead in overnight hit and run on Hamilton Mountain: police

“Enforcement is not going to get us through this,” Damptey told Global news.

“A public education awareness – changing the way that our streets are designed, protecting cyclists, protecting seniors that use our roads – is going to reduce the amount of incidents and deaths that we are seeing.”

Larkin says ultimately encouraging attentive driving and curbing dangerous behaviors among those behind the wheel and as well as those crossing streets are paramount in quashing injuries and fatalities since it directly addresses the cause.

“As the (pandemic) restrictions have been lifted, we’re going to see more people out and enjoying the weather,” said Larkin. “So our message is quite simple: if you’re out and using our roadways, do so in a responsible manner and that’s courteous to others.”

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The traffic boss says both pedestrians and drivers should always make eye contact with each other to make intentions clear on crossing or making a turn.

“Even though there’s no verbal communication between the two, there’s an understanding that the interaction you’re going to have will be safe,” Larkin said.

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