Toronto’s Vision Zero program stumbles


In June 2016, Toronto Mayor John Tory launched the Vision Zero initiative, an aggressive strategy to improve road safety in Canada’s biggest city. Like other Vision Zero programs around the world, Toronto’s version aimed to eliminate traffic deaths within five years, an ambitious goal that was lauded by Toronto personal injury lawyers and road safety advocates.

Unfortunately, Vision Zero hasn’t had the same effect in Toronto as in other major cities. More than 90 pedestrians or cyclists have been killed since June 2016, including almost 20 in 2018. If the current pace continues, this will be the deadliest year on record for the city’s vulnerable road users.

That’s why last month, when the City introduced its $118,000 “Vision Zero Challenge,” a competition soliciting innovative solutions to road safety issues from transit users, social scientists, activists, and other stakeholders, Toronto personal injury lawyers and safety advocates responded with exasperation.

“There are clear ways to get to Vision Zero,” consultant Colin Powell told CBC News Toronto. “Separated bike lanes, reducing the speed of cars on our roads … I think there are far better things we could be doing with our time and money.”

In New York City, traffic deaths fell 23 per cent in two years following the 2014 launch of its Vision Zero initiative; pedestrians deaths in have been halved since 2013, including a 32 per cent reduction in 2017 alone.

This drastic improvement has been attributed to reduced speed limits, a rapidly expanding network of bike lanes, and the installation of more advance green lights for pedestrians. These actions all required significant investment, but the results speak for themselves, and last year the Big Apple dedicated an additional $1.6-billion (US) in road safety spending over five years.

Despite committing just $87-million to its Vision Zero pursuit, the City of Toronto has made improvements in several areas. According to the Star, the initiative has led to ‘more than 800 new lower speed limits signs; about 20,000 kilometres of pavement painted with “zebra markings” in school safety zones, senior safety zones and pedestrian safety zones; 60 new accessible pedestrian signals; and at least 5,705 metres of new sidewalk.’ The city has also added seven kilometres of new bike track, more than six kilometres of new bike lanes, and cycling safety improvements at five intersections.

But that work hasn’t impressed advocates for pedestrian and cyclist safety.

“At the current rate it’s going to take a long time to even reduce pedestrian deaths significantly,” Dylan Reid, the co-founder of pedestrian advocacy group Walk Toronto, told the Star. “If you compare Toronto’s plan with true Vision Zero plans like in New York or Sweden, Toronto’s pace is nowhere near as ambitious in terms of its scope, or in terms of its investment.”

Each year, Toronto personal injury lawyers field many calls from cyclists and pedestrians who have been injured in collisions with motor vehicles. Changes must be made; reducing speed limits, for example, has been proven to dramatically reduce fatalities. Busy, dense global cities like Tokyo, Paris, and London have all reduced speed limits to 40 kilometres per hour or less, and each is considered significantly safer than Toronto in terms of traffic fatalities.

If you or someone you know has been injured in an automotive accident, contact the experienced Toronto personal injury lawyers at Will Davidson LLP to learn how we can help.


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New technologies pose distracted driving risks


Last month, an Ontario Justice of the Peace found a woman guilty of distracted driving after she was caught checking her Apple Watch while behind the wheel of her car. The case underscores not only the evolving role of technology in our lives, but also the need for up-to-date laws governing the use of these devices. Today, drivers, law enforcement officers, and Ontario personal injury lawyers are making due with a patchwork of rapidly aging legislation.

In the Apple Watch case, a University of Guelph police officer testified that Victoria Ambrose checked her device several times while stopped at a red light. When the light turned green, the cars in front of her moved forward while she remained stationary. The police officer eventually shined a light into Ambrose’s vehicle, at which point she began to drive. The officer pulled her over and issued a ticket for distracted driving, which Ambrose contested.

“Despite the Apple Watch being smaller than a cellular phone, on the evidence, it is a communication device capable of receiving and transmitting electronic data,” said Justice of the Peace Lloyd Phillipps, according to the National Post. “While attached to the defendant’s wrist, it is no less a source of distraction that a cellphone taped to someone’s wrist.”

Canada’s Highway Traffic Act prohibits drivers from operating handheld wireless communication devices but doesn’t specifically address wearable technologies like the Apple Watch. As these devices grow more popular, lawmakers must decide when their use is acceptable and when it increases the risk of motor vehicle collisions.

Legitimate questions of liability can also be raised in accidents involving wireless technology. To be sure, drivers have a responsibility to remain focused on the road, not on their electronic device. But as more people become aware of the danger of distracted driving, individuals who knowingly send messages to drivers may be asked to bear some responsibility for third party damages. According to CBC News Toronto, a 2013 court decision established this possibility in the state of New Jersey, and some Ontario personal injury lawyers anticipate similar rulings in Canada.

Electronics manufacturers could also be held responsible for traffic deaths. In 2016, a California lawsuit alleged that Apple’s failure to implement a feature restricting the use of FaceTime while behind the wheel caused a fatal 2014 car accident. Both Apple and Google have announced plans to combat phone addiction by limiting screen time – is limiting screen time for drivers also possible?

If you or a member of your family has been injured in a car accident caused by distracted driving, contact the Ontario personal injury lawyers at Will Davidson LLP to learn how our experienced team can help.



Safer boating in Ontario starts with two simple steps


Residents of southern Ontario are blessed with convenient access to an extensive network of lakes and rivers that are perfectly suited to summertime boating. Unfortunately, as every Ontario boating accident lawyer knows, many of the province’s boaters fail to adhere to basic safety principles, which causes accidents, injuries, and in some cases, deaths.

In late May, CBC News Toronto reported that a 25-year-old North York woman had died in a boating accident on Lake Couchiching, near Orillia. The story broke on the second day of North American Safe Boating Awareness Week and at the onset of boating season in Ontario. The circumstances of the accident appear benign: two women were paddling a canoe just 100 metres from shore. However, neither was wearing a life-jacket, a fatal and all-too-common mistake in this province.

“[Life-jackets] will save your life,” André Mollema of the Ottawa Drowning Prevention Coalition told CBC Ottawa. “If you fall in, even though you’re an experienced swimmer, you never know. You can knock your head on the boat on the way in, and then if you don’t have that life saving device on, you will drown.”

Transport Canada requires every boat to carry a life-jacket or flotation device for each person on board. Failure to do so can result in hundreds of dollars in fines.

An experienced Ontario boating accident lawyer can tell you that intoxication is another prevalent risk factor on Canadian waterways.

“Alcohol is a contributor in nearly 100 per cent of cases of boating fatalities in Manitoba and in 90 per cent of them they were not wearing life jackets,” Kevin Tordliffe of the Livesaving Society’s Manitoba branch told CTV Winnipeg. “These are two easy things that we can address quickly to address those statistics.”

Tordliffe is absolutely correct. Last year, boating deaths in Ontario reached an eight-year high of 31, up from 23 in 2016. CBC Ottawa reports that there have been more than 12,000 water-related deaths in Canada between 1991 and 2014, 82 per cent of which were boys and men. Reducing alcohol consumption and promoting life jacket use could go a long way in reducing those elevated numbers.

If you, a member of your family, or someone you know has been injured in a boating accident, contact Will Davidson LLP today to speak with an experienced Ontario boating accident lawyer. Our team can help you assess your legal options and decide whether to launch a personal injury claim.

Unnecessary childhood chiropractic treatments raise alarms among pediatricians


Pediatricians are concerned that certain Canadian chiropractors are promoting unnecessary corrective spinal manipulations for young children and infants, according to a report from the National Post. While the procedures are generally harmless, they put patients at risk of serious injuries that would necessitate the services of a personal injury lawyer.

At the heart of the issue is chiropractors’ claims that spinal adjustments can address a diverse range of childhood ailments, including learning disorders and food allergies. However, the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) has warned parents that chiropractic procedures are not an effective substitute to medical treatment. “Parents should be made aware that there is a lack of substantiated evidence for the theory of subluxated vertebrae as the causality for illness in children,” the organization has stated.

Dr. Douglas Mack, an assistant clinical professor at McMaster University, told the National Post that he has treated nut-allergic children who consumed nuts after being told by their chiropractor that spinal therapy could help.

“It’s often an ‘us’ against ‘them’ perspective and I don’t think it needs to be,” Dr. Mack said. “But when they overstate what is outside of their realm, quite honestly that borders on fraudulent.”

According to the Post, some chiropractors tell clients that as many as 80 per cent of newborns suffer trauma at birth, for which spinal manipulation is a safe and beneficial treatment.

“There’s a lot of anecdotal reports and scary memes where they show the obstetrician or midwife pulling the baby out by the neck,” said Dr. Clay Travis Hones, a pediatrician in Massachusetts, to the Post. “But there’s no legitimate evidence that any appreciable per cent of babies suffer subluxations to the spinal bones or any injury that would be amenable to adjustments…. They’re just scare tactics.”

While rare, injuries associated with childhood spinal manipulations can be extremely serious. In 2007, researchers at the University of Alberta reviewed 13 published studies on the subject and found more than a dozen injuries, including nine serious ones and two that resulted in death.

The study also identified two meningitis deaths that occurred when chiropractors attempted to treat the illness rather than referring the patient to a physician. This situation could constitute a form of medical malpractice that a personal injury lawyer would be capable of addressing.

If a member of your family has been injured as a result of an improper medical procedure, contact a personal injury lawyer at Will Davidson LLP’s Oakville offices today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. Our team can help you understand your legal options.

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