Durham Region adopts public messaging in bid to improve road safety

In Durham Region, the municipality directly east of Toronto, a motor vehicle accident occurs every 48 minutes and someone is injured in a crash every five hours. Since 2012, the region has endured a 33 per cent increase in fatal collisions, with approximately 37 per cent of those collisions linked to distracted driving. For local law enforcement and every car accident lawyer in the Greater Toronto Area, the prevalence of serious accidents in Durham is cause for concern.

In response to the region’s road safety issues, Durham Regional Police Service (DRPS) has launched an expansive public messaging campaign promoting education and awareness. The program underlines the dangers of impaired driving, distracted driving, aggressive driving, and not wearing a seatbelt, the “Big Four Killers” on Ontario roads.

“We wanted something that would create more enduring change than just getting a ticket,” said Const. Shawn Finley, chair of the north Durham traffic committee, according to DurhamRegion.com. “When you get a ticket, that might alter your behaviour for a short period of time, say the time it takes you to think of what that ticket cost, but we wanted something to get people thinking about the controllable behaviours that contribute to the big four killers.”

The DRPS’s approach, which includes installing posters at LCBOs and grocery stores and distributing pamphlets, is a breath of fresh air to any Ontario car accident lawyer, many of whom have advocated for public messaging and education to be deployed alongside tough traffic laws.

“It’s important to educate the public so they understand texting and driving is killing people, it’s raising the possibility of an accident,” said Staff-Sgt. Colin Shaw of DRPS North Division. “We don’t want to wait for someone to have an accident before we deal with the fact that they were speeding, drinking and driving or texting and driving.”

In 2015, impaired driving caused 166 DRPS-investigated collisions leading to 22 injuries and four deaths. The Service laid more than 700 impaired driving charges that year, in addition to more than 2,700 distracted driving charges and around 2,500 speeding charges.

As new road safety challenges like distracted driving and marijuana legalization emerge across Canada, police services and lawmakers at all levels of government are turning to innovative public messaging campaigns in a bid to influence driver behaviour. The approach has proven effective in the decades-long fight against drunk driving; however, distracted driving fatality rates have yet to fall, and the impact of marijuana legalization on road safety remains to be seen.

If you or a member of your family has been injured in an automotive accident, contact Will Davidson LLP to speak with an experienced Oakville car accident lawyer today. Our team will provide guidance and advice as you pursue compensation for your injuries.

 

Image credit: Zachary77F/Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Back-to-school road safety tips

The first weeks of September are a nervous, exciting period for Ontario’s kids, parents, and even personal injury lawyers. School’s return means tens of thousands of children have resumed their morning and afternoon commutes, greatly increasing the number of vulnerable road users on the province’s streets. As such, the beginning of the month is an excellent time for parents to review basic road safety principles with their children and for civilian drivers to brush up on important traffic rules. Reacquainting yourself with relevant laws and regulations can mean the difference between a safe commute and a serious personal injury.

Tips for Parents

In urban settings, many parents encourage their children to walk to school. Walking to and from class has myriad benefits for young people, but parents must first be sure that their children are ready for the responsibility. Most personal injury lawyers recommend walking with your child several times to ensure they are comfortable, confident, and cognizant of any dangers. Parents should also ensure that high-traffic intersections are identified and, if possible, avoided.

If your child isn’t ready to walk to school, you may need to drop them off and pick them up. School zones are often chaotic, so it is imperative that parents slow down, obey traffic rules, avoid stopping in no-parking zones, and keep crosswalks clear of traffic.

Tips for Kids

If your child does walk to school, encourage them to travel with a friend until they are fully comfortable with the route. If they choose to bike, they must wear a helmet: in Ontario, it is illegal for individuals under the age of 18 to ride without one. Wearing a helmet can save your child’s life if they’re involved in a bicycle accident.

Once they’ve arrived at school, children should remain vigilant in parking lots and school zones. Everyone can understand the excitement of seeing friends and favourite teachers again, but darting across the road for a reunion could be life-threatening. Encourage your kids to look both ways and cross only at designated crosswalks.

Tips for Drivers

Back-to-school also impacts everyday commuters who may have grown accustomed to kid-free roads. If your drive passes through school zones, make sure to give yourself extra time during the first couple weeks of the month. Reduce your speed, avoid distractions, and exercise extreme caution around school busses.

Contact Will Davidson LLP

If you or a member of your family is injured in a car accident this fall, contact Will Davidson LLP to speak with our team of experienced personal injury lawyers. We can help you plan your recovery and access compensation for your injuries.

 

Image credit: Glenn Beltz/Flickr

Cycling safety is not exclusively an urban issue

A collision between a pick-up truck and a group of 15 cyclists near Edmonton brought cycling safety back into the national spotlight last month. Two riders were hospitalized with serious but not life-threatening injuries, and bicycle accident lawyers in Ontario were reminded of early summer, when several vulnerable road users were struck and killed in Toronto.

Cycling injuries are a major issue in Canada. According to a 2017 Statistics Canada report, more than 1,400 cyclists died in crashes between 1994 and 2012, an average of 74 per year. Since 2010, the Ontario Office of the Chief Coroner has issued several recommendations to reduce cycling fatalities, including improved road infrastructure, side guards for heavy trucks, new legislation and enforcement of existing road safety laws, and mandatory helmet use.

In major Canadian cities where councilors are familiar with dooring and cycling accidents at busy intersections, these and other initiatives are already underway. However, as bicycle accident lawyers in Ontario know, cycling deaths and injuries are not restricted to urban environments, as evidenced by the recent accident outside Edmonton.

For a variety of reasons, smaller, more rural communities often find it challenging to build public support for cycling safety projects.

“Our [Canadian] landscape is a bit unique in that we’re very reliant on motor vehicles,” Canada Safety Council’s Lewis Smith told Global News. “In certain areas of the country, especially, it’s just not possible to get around with a bike and still maintain the same type of lifestyle.”

So, what can local politicians and rural cyclists do to improve safety? Annie McKitrick, the MLA for Sherwood Park, Alberta, believes the Edmonton collision may provide impetus for advocates to engage with the wider community.

“I think this incident has really been kind of a wake-up call on the need for the cycling community to get together, to advocate, and to ensure that cyclists and motorists know how to share the road safely,” said McKitrick, according to the CBC.

Public education and awareness campaigns are not the most effective means of reducing cycling accidents, but when infrastructure improvements are off the table, advocacy can go a long way. Simply reminding drivers of the need to share the road may be enough to prevent a serious accident or two.

If you or a member of your family has been injured in a cycling accident, contact Will Davidson LLP today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with our team of bicycle accident lawyers. We can assess the potential of your claim and provide guidance along your road to recovery.

Brain injury survivor shares story to promote understanding

For some doctors, non-profit employees, personal injury lawyers, and the family and caregivers of survivors, brain injury is a daily fact of life. Yet despite it being the leading cause of death and impairment in Canadians under the age of 44, and even though roughly 1.5-million people currently live with acquired brain injuries nationwide, many Canadians don’t fully understand the challenges faced by brain injury victims.

Christie McLardie of Oshawa, Ontario, wants to change that. In August, she spoke with DurhamRegion.com about the significant struggles she has overcome during her two-year recovery from an acquired brain injury. By discussing her recovery and the challenges still to come, she hopes to inspire hope in fellow survivors and improve awareness in the wider community – an aim that is sure to be lauded by personal injury lawyers.

McLardie suffered her injury when she was struck by a line-drive during a softball game in September 2016. Not yet 40, she was professionally successful, athletic, and the mother of two children.

“I was hit on the right side of my head – I don’t remember much and a lot of traumatic brain injury people don’t remember immediate times (before the hit) – but what would have happened is that line drive was coming and I knew I wouldn’t be able to react and catch the ball so I must have turned my head and as I turned my head the line drive hit me smack in the temporal area of the right side of my brain,” she told DurhamRegion.com.

McLardie was transferred to St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto for emergency craniotomy surgery to remove shattered bone fragments, address brain bleeding, and replace a large section of skull with a titanium plate. Walking was difficult following the surgery, and she had trouble communicating due to slurred speech. However, McLardie was cognitively intact.

“I was slow, but Christie was there, I was just a lot slower,” she said.

After six weeks in and out of hospital, McLardie returned home to face a new challenge: the emotional journey that often accompanies recovery from a serious personal injury.

“You’re in shock for a long time, that shock turns to complacency and you feel like this is it,” she said. “Then you go into that anger mode, why is this happening to me, and they you go into a mourning so it’s like you morn the old self, and then after that – and this is where I’m at right now – I’m into acceptance and that journey to acceptance has taken me almost two years.”

If you or someone you know has suffered a brain injury or other serious injury in an accident, contact Will Davidson LLP today to speak with our experienced team of personal injury lawyers. We can help you understand your legal options and provide guidance as you seek compensation.

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