Posts Tagged ‘traffic’

In  Toronto fourteen pedestrians have been killed in the last month in motor vehicle/pedestrian accidents.  These numbers are shocking  as that works out to be about two people per day being struck and killed by a vehicle in the city.   Most of these accidents occurred at intersections or marked crosswalks where the pedestrian had the right of way.  But as is plainly obvious, in the battle between human and car, the car will always win most of the time.

Bill Saundercook, a city councilor, is  fighting to have city speed limits reduced by ten kilometers per hour.  Currently in most zones outside of the downtown the speed limits are about 60 km/h.  In my opinion this is far too fast for streets that also channel a lot of pedestrians.  It doesn’t take a scientist to figure out that the faster a vehicle is traveling the more likely the pedestrian being struck is going to die.  These speeds lead to decreased time for drivers to react to an obstacle that suddenly appears in front of them.

According to a study conducted by NRMA Insurance, risks of death or injury double when motorists violate a speed limit of 60 km/h by a mere 5 km/h faster than the posted limit.  If a motorist travels at 10 km/h above that posted limit the chances of death or injury jumps to an astounding four times the normal rate of a speed at 60 km/h.  In most cases, motorists tend to believe that they can go at least 10 km/h faster than the limit and be alright.  The city should enforce slower limits and have a zero tolerance for even small violations of the limit.

Another study conducted by the province of Quebec found that the average reaction time to apply the brakes of a car at 60 km/h is 1.3 seconds. If the motorist was to spot a pedestrian at 32 metres away, the car will have traveled at least 21.7 meters before the brakes are even applied.  The vehicle will travel a further 18.9 meters before coming to a complete stop.  The total stopping distance at this speed is 40.6 meters making it impossible for a motorist to stop in time before colliding with the person.

The study also looked at a posted speed limit of 50 km/h and found that the reaction time is still 1.3 seconds to apply the brakes. When  a pedestrian is spotted at 32 meters away, the car will have traveled 18.1 meters in the time before the brakes are applied, and it will travel a further 13.1 meters before reaching a full stop.  The total stopping distance is 31.2 meters, making it possible to stop before hitting the pedestrian. So the obvious point here is that slower is safer.  The study even points out that driving a car at 10 km/h above the limit saves the motorist a mere four minutes off of their total trip time.   So speeding is not going to help a motorist in any way.  The only thing it will do is increase the odds of a fatal accident occurring.

If these facts are not enough to convince City Hall that speed limits need to be reduced in the outskirts of the city, then the 14 deaths this month should be more than enough proof.  Hopefully the government will make a decision on lowering speed limits and enforcing them properly in a timely manner before another life is  lost in these needless accidents.

—Matthew Casey

Statistical Information From

There doesn’t really seem to be a good way to get around in Toronto.  If you drive you have to put up with traffic jams, if you commute using public transportation it is overcrowded, and if you use your feet to get you places, then one must really be careful!  So far in the last seven days seven pedestrians have been involved in fatal accidents.

One of the big reasons for vehicle-pedestrian accidents according to the Ontario Safety League President Brian Patterson, in an interview with the Toronto Star, is a lack of communication between drivers and people walking.

Everyone seems to be so caught up in their own little world that they don’t see or hear what is going on around them.  People walk with earphones blasting music in their ears and drivers are distracted by all kinds of devices within their cars.   All it takes is one quick glance away from the road to initiate a chain of events that can’t be stopped.

Another big reason is that people are simply in too much of a rush.  Cars are whizzing down streets at incredible speeds in a frantic attempt to arrive somewhere on time.  To this effect, Toronto speed limits on city streets seem to be quite high as they are posted generally at 60 km/h.  The faster the cars move, the more likely an accident will be fatal.  A Toronto city councillor Bill Saundercook is proposing an idea to have speed limits reduced in the city by at least 10 km/h.

In an article in the Toronto Sun Councillor Saundercook says that he doesn’t want people to be afraid to walk.  I believe that if the city is trying to encourage people to reduce their carbon footprint, then they should make the streets more pedestrian friendly.  I believe that a reduction in speed limits is wise, and also police should enforce a zero tolerance for people who choose to go faster than the posted limit.

Even with slower speed limits accidents are not one hundred percent avoidable, but hopefully a reduction in speed limits will also reduce the number of fatal accidents to lower levels.

—Matthew Casey

With information from:–why-7-pedestrians-have-died-in-7-days

So anything new going on in Late Nite?” That was a casual question Jay Leno asked Jimmy Kimmel on Thursday night during his “10 @ 10” segment on the Jay Leno Show.   Well Jay, you are all well too aware of what is going on in the world of late night television.   NBC has made one of its biggest mistakes in its history, one that could likely irreparably damage the reputation of a show that has brought laughs into households for fifty years.

In a frantic bid to get ratings back up to pre June 2009 levels, NBC has pushed  its newest host of the “Tonight Show” franchise, Conan O’Brien, after only seven months on the job out the door so that it can put the man who hosted it for seventeen years back behind its desk.  All that said, this is a risky move that has more of a chance at blowing up in NBC’s face than it does to save its late night life.

NBC is gambling on the fact that its former “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” followers are going to flock back to their televisions at 11:35pm to welcome him again.  It is true that the ratings may slightly increase for the first couple of shows as everyone will want to see what the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” part two is going to look like.  However, after the opening week I feel that the “Tonight Show” will see a ratings drop like nothing experienced before.  And if O’Brien starts up his own version of the “Tonight Show” on a competing network within the next eight or nine months Leno may find himself on a sinking ship with no life raft.

By allowing a valuable member of the late night circuit at NBC for the last sixteen years to walk out the door NBC has sent a clear message to its viewers that it has no heart or soul.  The fact that it only gave O’Brien seven months to boost his ratings shows how unfair they have been.   If people can remember that back in 1992 when Leno took over for Johnny Carson, his own show was threatened when NBC wanted to move David Letterman from his late night spot to the “Tonight Show” to keep him from going to CBS.  Perhaps back then NBC had somewhat of a heart because they allowed Leno to prove himself rather than haul him off the air just to please Letterman.  If they could let Letterman go then they should be able to let Jay go.  Conan has proven himself to the network in his sixteen years and it’s a downright shame that they are letting him slip away just to keep a man who used to be on the top of his game around with no promises that he will get back to the top of his game.

Conan O’Brien was simply not given enough time to establish himself and he was being asked to swim in a turbulent ocean with one arm tied behind his back.  His lead in audience from the local news was very weak because of the weak lead in to the local news from the Jay Leno Show. Had NBC’s primetime experiment not blown up in its face, O’Brien would most likely have been able to capture a bigger audience with a better lead in.

What NBC should have done is let Leno go.  Jay Leno is a great comedian and I’m not saying he isn’t, but he had his run! He did his best and he tried to lead in primetime but he failed and in my opinion he should have got out while he was on top and left the network completely when he passed the torch to O’Brien in June 2009.   If NBC executive Jeff Zucker had a brain he would have cut Jay loose.  It was Leno’s show that failed miserably and not Conan’s, but in the twisted world of NBC Conan had to pay the price for another man’s failure who is most likely going to fail yet again when he regains the reigns of the “Tonight Show” bringing that show down with him.

So after the winter Olympics are finished and the buzz around this late night shuffle is over NBC is going to realize that it made a fatal mistake when Jay Leno can’t stop the “Tonight Show” from sinking because of the hole that NBC has blown in its side.

—Matthew Casey

Lately when I’ve had time—not that I have much of that being a full time student and all—I have been reading the book called “Traffic (And What it Says About Us)” by Tom Vanderbilt.  It is a really fascinating look into the human mind and how we drive.  I recommend you read it; it will definitely make you think about your own driving habits a little more closely and make you pay attention to those of others when you’re driving next.

I must admit that when I moved to Toronto from a small city in the Maritimes I had a lot to get used to when driving around here. The attitudes of drivers in the big city are so different than those of drivers in a community of only a little over one hundred thousand people! Driving in Toronto is such a daunting task and I am still getting used to it even after three months of living here.

First off, road rage is a big factor in bigger cities like Toronto.  In this city it is not uncommon to be honked at several times on an average drive.  I’ve been honked at for reasons that are entirely out of my control.  In this city cars honking give Canadian wild geese a run for their money! I really don’t understand why the person behind me feels the need to honk their horn at me when I can’t move any faster than the car that is ahead of me. The horn in this city appears to be an instrument of stress relief.  But whatever makes you feel better I suppose…

The next big factor in getting used to driving in a big city is to get used to how aggressive drivers are in these cities.  They take so many unnecessary risks.  Even when in my mind I’m thinking there is no way this guy is going to turn left in front of me there is clearly not enough time, the car just turns left right in front of me forcing me to slam on my brakes! But I don’t use my horn; I haven’t been corrupted into using that just yet.

Finally I just have to say that when I’m driving on a major expressway in traffic that is stopped, I wish that people would just quit switching lanes! Drivers weave in and out of the lanes thinking they are going to get out of the jam faster but in turn it makes the traffic jam worse.  According to the book by Tom Vanderbilt changing lanes actually makes traffic flow worse.  Cars have to slow down or stop to let that car in front of them, which in turn slows down every car behind them in the lane. So if people would simply just stick to their lanes and not weave in and out of the exit lanes and other lanes, perhaps things would move a little smoother.

I would suggest just walking everywhere in the city, but even that is dangerous.  Pedestrians and motorists share the road, but the motorists tend to think that they own it. There are a lot of pedestrian-vehicle collisions in this city, so even walking is a daunting task at times.

Again, I recommend you read this book, it is very interesting and might just change the way you drive as well.  I know it has changed the way I do! Hopefully for the better.

—Matthew Casey