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Region takes measures to curb fatal road collisions

In late 2018, a traffic accident took the life of a student. In response, a community safety zone has been established at the intersection of Simcoe Street North and Conlin Road.

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

The region is set to continue its goal of reducing fatal traffic incidents on area roads with Durham Vision Zero.

Steven Kemp, regional manager of traffic operations, spoke on the strategic road action plan at latest meeting of the region’s work committee.

Kemp noted the number of driving fatalities in the province has been declining over the last 20 years.

However, according to Kemp there is still reason for concern as there were 21 people killed and 1,653 people injured on regional and local roads in 2017.

“20 people not getting home to their families is unacceptable,” said Kemp.

There have been specific trends specified for particular collision types, with a particular focus on cyclists.

According to Kemp, the Vision Zero philosophy is “one death is one too many.”

The goal of Vision Zero is a 10 per cent drop off in collisions which result in fatalities and injuries over a five-year period.

“We hope to be able to do better than that,” said Kemp. “But 10 per cent minimum.”

There will be several counter measures put in place by Vision Zero, with Kemp noting intersections are one of the worst areas for collisions, accounting for 63 per cent of all incidents.

Some counter measures to lower the number of collisions at intersections include protected left turn-only lanes, retro-flective signal backgrounds, red light cameras, and roundabouts among others.

Kemp also notes hopes aggressive driving will be curbed, and in order to do so there will be increased automated speed enforcement, roads designed to discourage speeding, an anti-aggressive driving campaign, and targeted enforcement initiatives.

There will also be attempt to discourage distracted driving through education and enforcement, Safety Edge, which teaches drivers how to make sure they don’t lose control if they drift.

Kemp says young drivers age 16 to 25 are often some of those most at risk on the road. In response to this, Vision Zero includes education campaigns directed at young drivers.

There will also be further protections to pedestrians under Vision Zero, as there will be signal timing adjustments, more pedestrian countdown signals, refuge islands and more.

There will also be further education and enforcement regarding impaired driving, as Kemp noted, “[impaired driving] statistics have really gone in the right direction.”

There will also be counter measures to protect cyclists with paved shoulders on roads, cross-rides at intersections, and cyclist detection at traffic signals.

Finally, measures surrounding commercial vehicles include designated truck routes and additional efforts for enforcement.

The next steps for Vision Zero include establishing a Vision Zero task force, the implementation of the counter measures, ongoing monitoring and evaluation of progress, and a continued partnership with Durham Regional Police Services.

Regional council will select a nominee for the regional task force.

Traffic safety has been of concern in Durham Region of late as a new community safety zone has been implemented in the area of Durham College and UOIT.

The community safety zone is designated 100 metres west of Founders Drive, and 100 metres east of Bridle Road in Oshawa.

Ward 2 regional councillor Tito-Dante Marimpietri pushed for the community safety zone after the death of a pedestrian in November.

Marimpietri, a member of the works committee, said Vision Zero continues the momentum brought forward by the community safety zone.

“Vision Zero is definitely a project and an initiative that everyone’s been talking about, from Europe to North America, and throughout the world,” he said.

Marimpietri notes council has decided issues surrounding speed and traffic needed to be addressed with the current tools available.

He says the implementation of Vision Zero will come over time as a result of numerous advances in technology, and as a result of the conduct of drivers, cyclists and pedestrians on regional roads.

“I in particular asked for streets like Mary Street, Somerville Street, and Conlin Road, in community safety zones, so we can have the ability to implement and use technology such as automated camera and speed control systems where we can’t get the enforcement that we need on these streets because of resources and the limited number of police officers that are available for all of the community streets and regional roads. It becomes onerous to be able to police and enforce all of them,” says Marimpietri.

Ward 2’s regional councillor sys he has a positive outlook when it comes to Vision Zero.

“It is a means to arriving at a solution that everyone has increasingly found difficult to arrive at,” he says.