Thursday, December 24, 2009

Are Canadians changing their drinking and driving habits?: Poll

OTTAWA, Dec. 22, 2009 /CNW/ – A new poll by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) reveals that Canadians may be changing their habits regarding driving after drinking.

The public opinion poll conducted in September investigated how many Canadians drove after drinking in the last year.

Nineteen per cent of Canadians polled admitted to driving after consuming any amount of alcohol in the past 30 days in 2009. This figure has consistently increased since 2005 and further suggests a stable upward trend in the number of people who admit to this behaviour.

The good news is that researchers were also able to identify a decrease in the number of Canadians who drove when they thought they were over the legal limit in 2008 and 2009; this in comparison to those who admitted to the same behaviour in 2007. About 5.6% of Canadians admitted to driving when they thought they were over the legal limit in the past 12 months. This is a slight increase compared to 2008 (5.2%) but does confirm the considerable drop from 8.2% in 2007.

“In the 2008 Road Safety Monitor on drinking and driving, it was suggested that the drop in 2008 may be partly due to the recent passage of Bill C-2 and the media attention the amendment had received.”, explains TIRF research scientist Ward Vanlaar. “In light of this possible explanation, a small increase from 2008 to 2009 is not surprising given that the effect of legislation can dissipate over time after its introduction.”

According to official statistics, in 2007, 863 Canadians were killed in a traffic crash involving a drinking driver. This represents an increase since 2004. However there have been steady declines, from 1,296 in 1995 to 815 in 2004.

One hypothesis is that these results in combination with the decreased number of fatalities suggest the number of people who are drinking and driving at higher levels of alcohol consumption is decreasing. Further monitoring of this pattern will help provide a better understanding of the possible trend.

“It is evident that much of the substantial decrease in fatalities through to 2004 occurred during the 1990s,” says Vanlaar. “While the recent data would suggest that progress has halted, the 2007 data regarding a decrease in those persons who reported driving when they thought they were over the legal limit may be indicative of a new downward trend. More data will have to be collected to further monitor this.”

The poll also revealed that drinking and driving continues to be ranked by the public as the most important concern of all road safety issues. As in previous years, Vanlaar says he’s not surprised by these results.

“Data in the early 2000s indicate that the progress we experienced during the 1990s has halted.” says Vanlaar. “This combined with the number of Canadians who continue to be affected by the financial, physical, and emotional consequences of these crashes means that a high level of concern is warranted.”

Drinking drivers are not the only ones who continue to put themselves at risk as 5.1% of those polled (1.7 million people) admitted to riding with a drinking driver in the last month. Some 6.6% of respondents (2.2 million people) indicated that they had been a passenger in a motor vehicle driven by someone who has been drinking on two or more such occasions.

“These results do not differ considerably from last year’s results.” says Vanlaar, “However, passengers should remember that even when blood alcohol concentrations are low, the risk of crashing substantially increases.” Canadians were also asked about different countermeasures to combat drinking and driving. Results show that Canadians continue to show support for various technologies, programs, and penalties for those who drink and drive.

For the second year in a row, the poll included a closer examination of regional drinking and driving attitudes and behaviours. Both the regional and national reports are available on TIRF’s website, (

About the poll:

These results are based on the Road Safety Monitor (RSM), an annual public opinion poll developed and conducted by TIRF. A total of 1,200 Canadians completed the poll. Results can be considered accurate within plus or minus 2.9%, 19 times out of 20. Financial support for this report and other reports in The Road Safety Monitor series comes from Transport Canada, the Brewers Association of Canada and the Canadian Trucking Alliance. For the first time, half of all respondents were contacted by phone and the o ther half on-line as part of a gradual transition to a complete online survey.

About TIRF:

Established in 1964, TIRF’s mission is to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries. As a national, independent, charitable road safety institute — TIRF designs, promotes, and implements effective programs and policies, based on sound research. TIRF is a registered charity and depends on grants, contracts, and donations to provide services for the public. Visit us online at
– 30 –

For more information, please contact:

Sara Oglestone
Manager, Marketing and Communications
613-851-8357 (cell) 613-238-5235 (office)
1-877-238-5235 (toll-free)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Rubber-necking believed to be cause of 2nd Gardiner crash

I caught this little story while on vacation. Now I won't usually 'work' while on vacation, but this is something that I couldn't resist talking about.

Original Article, Toronto Star, Tuesday December 22, 2009.

"A speeding car that flipped in the westbound lanes of the Gardiner Expressway early Sunday may have caused a second accident in the opposite direction minutes later.

The downtown highway was snarled with two accidents around 3 a.m. after the first vehicle rolled over into outer ditch.

Police believe that a taxi travelling eastbound may have been rubber-necking when it crashed into the guardrails shortly afterwards.

Only minor injuries were reported from both crashes."

I've seen this many times while investigating collisions. As someone standing on the side of the road you can see it coming. This is a collision of pure ignorance. Ignorance for other drivers, for yourself and for the emergency workers that have to respond to your collision, because what you were driving past was more important than where you were driving.

You can exchange ignorance with whatever word you would choose, but it fits. You are driving in a state of ignorance, "lack of knowledge, education or awareness" (Meriam Webster OnLine Dictionary).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Toronto Cyclists Top 10 Peeves about Cycling in Toronto.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked Toronto via Twitter and Facebook, "Hey Toronto Cyclists. What's your biggest pet peeve about cycling in Toronto? Let me know. I'll be writing about it."

This one came about after the drivers top 10 pet peeves after a lot of cyclists wanted their voices heard. Well, here is the writing about it and the results. Some great responses and really diverse!

Here are honourable mentions that didn't make the top ten. Drivers who don't let you change lanes, drivers who stop too close to you and my favourite...'drivers who wait for pedestrians when turning right and don't leave room to go straight ahead'. More on that gets a special section for itself.

# 10 - SUV's.
I'm no really sure why cyclists don't like SUV's. Could be the carbon footprint, the size or make. Either way, I think that the dislike should be for poor driver behaviours, not the vehicles.

# 9 - No helmets.
One of my favourite answers. Other cyclists who don't wear helmets. Sure, as the argument goes, "A helmet won't save your life in all crashes." But what about the falls, the bumps and the crashes that it will save your life? Pretty small piece of safety equipment that can be the difference between life and death.

# 8 - Other cyclists running reds, makes us all look bad.
Not only does it make the good cyclists look bad, but it also confuses drivers. It's part of predictability which leads to better understanding/communication and respect.

# 7 - Not being seen.
This is a shared complaint for cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists. Not being seen is a big deal. Drivers need to be more aware, alert and cognizant of vulnerable road users. Having said that, make sure you are doing everything you can to be see. Bright, reflective clothing, a light, reflectors, a bell, a whistle, not cutting in between cars...these can all help.

# 6 - Dooring.
Drivers, do you open your doors in front of cars? Then why do it in front of cyclists? You can't just rely on mirrors to see what's coming from behind need to check over your shoulder to get the big picture.

# 5 - Drivers who don't get Road Sharing
Fully agree with this one. Cyclists are vehicles and have the same rights to the roadway as such. Because they are slower moving they are to stay to the right, but where situations dictate...cyclists can block a lane for their safety. This also has to do with passing. Drivers should pass cyclists giving them as much space as possible.

# 4 - Pedestrian Actions.
Pedestrians have to consider their safety and the safety of cyclists. Stepping out from between parked cars or onto roadways without looking is a recipe for disaster for both road users.
#3 - Drivers who right turn without signalling.
Drivers failing to signal was number one on their list and here it is in the top 3 here. Evidence again that this is a problem.

# 2 - Vehicle's parked in bike lanes.
No surprise here at all. The bike lanes are not a place to allow delivery vehicles or cars to park for convenience. They are to allow a safety zone for cyclists to travel.

# 1 - Infrastructure.
By a land slide! Lots of responses for this in many forms from bike lanes that lead no where, to lanes that aren't cleared of leaves and snow along with not enough bike lanes and poor road maintenance and street car tracks.

So that's the way you responded. Watch for another question coming soon. In the meantime, here is a couple of my thoughts.

Why obeying the rules of the road are so important.
One of cyclists concerns that I hear throughout the year is drivers who don't pay them any respect. I agree that there is a problem with this. But, respect is earned not demanded. One way that drivers have said that cyclists can earn that respect is to follow the same rules that apply to them. No wrong way on one way streets, no stop sign running, stop for red lights and use hand signals. Cyclists who do these, and there are many, are more predictable and are communicating. Those riders are easy to respect because their actions are safer and don't leave drivers wondering.

As for, "Drivers who wait for pedestrians when turning right and don't leave room to go straight ahead."
I'll take blame for this because I encourage drivers to do just that...when turning, move to the right to keep cyclists from passing on the right. Force cyclists to pass on the left. Passing on the right is just not a safe or smart move. Drivers should never have to worry about a cyclist passing them on the right and by closing that space, they are actually protecting themselves, and the cyclist.
Cyclists even have a great option here...stop, get off your bike, go up on the sidewalk, walk it across the street and then return to the road and ride on! No having to pass on the left, no waiting for the car to turn and you may even get the chance to make the driver wait for you.

Ride safe, ride aware, ride co-operative.

Motorist Killed as Car Hits Bus

Article re-posted from 2009.12.15

A 29-year-old motorist who died in an overnight collision had disagreed with her boyfriend over whether to take a cab home from a bar, police said.

He decided to call a taxi, but she wanted to drive.

Around 1:20 a.m., as she headed west on Wilson Ave., the woman slammed her silver Volkswagen into the back of a parked TTC bus.

The bus was empty and had broken down. The driver had parked in the curb lane, turned on the hazard lights and left to get help.

The victim's boyfriend was one of the first people to come across the scene. At first, he though the woman was not badly injured, as her only injuries appeared to be a few cuts and bruises.

What he couldn't see, however, was that she had suffered severe internal injuries. By the time paramedics arrived, she had no vital signs.

"The organs can only take so much — it doesn't take much to rupture your arteries," said Toronto Police Const. Hugh Smith. "She never made it to the hospital."

Police are waiting on a toxicology report to determine if alcohol may have been a factor in the collision.

The woman wasn't wearing a seatbelt.

Her name has not been released, as police are still notifying her family.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Anonymity of Driving

The one thing that our metal boxes provide us is pure anonymity. Once we close the door on the outside world, turn on our radios and start the engine, no one really knows who we are.

Sure, some people may emboss the identity that they want the outside world to know about them with a clever license plate name or moniker that says something about them. Some people will drive a vehicle that has a corporate name or business identity, but for the most part, the driver remains hidden behind steel, glass and plastic.

Maybe thats why so many people drive in a world that the only person that matters is them. The only place that matters is where they are and the only time that matters is their here and now. Those are the people that cut you off, speed with reckless abandon, blow through red lights, follow too close and any number of untold risks to your life and mine.

Most professional and courteous drivers don’t care who knows them or knows who they are once they are inside their steel cocoons. They drive in a cooperative and safe manner because it is the smarter and better thing to do for all of us.

Many companies have their corporate vehicles tagged with GPS and AVLS tracking systems, while others ask, “How’s my driving? Call 1800.....”. I have never seen any publications that show how effective this is as a deterrent for their companies drivers to operate in, but I believe that if you were one of those drivers and you don’t want any attention of this type brought to you, you’d drive pretty decent.

So what about the rest of us? Wouldn’t it be interesting if instead of a small piece of plastic for our wallets, the Ministry of Transportation gave us a magnetic card that we had to attach to the door of our cars. No more hiding in anonymity, no more nameless actions; just you your name and your behaviour out there for all to see and know. Go one step further...convicted of Impaired Driving, Over 80, Dangerous Driving, Operating without Insurance, Suspended Driving, etc...A scarlet letter to show how much of a danger to the pucblic you are so that we can all take greater care and awareness around you.

Would you still be cutting cars off in an attempt to move the precious spot or two ahead in the cue? Would you still speed through a neighbourhood full of children or go through the red lights? Probably not.

So, for the sake of safety and cooperation, drive like you are fully identifiable, drive like your name is on the side of your vehicle. Drive safe, be alert and be aware.

Road safety is every one’s responsibility. Do your part.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Winter Driving - Part I

Well, we made it though November without snow. (As far as I'm concerned that is near perfect...add 20 degrees to the temperature and I'll be much happier.)

Then came December 1st and my drive to work started by clearing the car of snow...yes, the entire car, not just a 6x6 section of windshield...we'll talk later about that.

So, since we won't be escaping winter driving forever we should start talking about it. Thanks to PC Hugh Smith, here is the beginning of our Winter Driving Series.

Winter driving requires one's full attention and concentration.
Proper seating position, including the proper wearing of the seat belt, is a paramount consideration. If the seating position is not correct, all other aspects of safe driving will be compromised.

Smooth inputs on the gas pedal, brake pedal and steering wheel are also a must. "Ease and squeeze" both gas and brake pedal as opposed to jumping on them. A 9 and 3 hand position on the steering wheel invites nice controlled and fluid steering inputs. There is a tendency among drivers to hold the wheel towards the 12 o'clock position and with one hand only. This promotes over steering of the vehicle, which is the last thing you need on a slippery snow covered surface.

A minimum following distance of 3 to 4 seconds is recommended in ideal weather situations. As the weather turns, you require more and more of a following distance. This is where ones, emotional control and good judgement come into play. Driving talent alone is often not enough.

Driving attitude is probably the hardest component to change in winter vehicle operation, as it requires a change in habit. Given a road with a posted speed of 60 km/h, some drivers operate their vehicle up to speeds of 80km/h under good conditions. Add fresh falling snow you may lose as much as 25% in traction or vehicle control requiring your speed to drop in relation to 60 km/h.

Your field of vision and eye lead may now be reduced by as much as 20%, lowering your speed now to about 50km/h.

Incorporating your speed reduction with a greater following distance would be hard for most drivers to maintain due to their resistance to change.

All driving must be planned out. In order to plan, a driver must be able to see far enough ahead and to each side, so one is not suddenly surprised by something. Don't look immediately ahead of the vehicle. Try to get your eyes scanning towards the horizon. Look and steer where you want to go next. Keep the eyes moving, always looking for the space you plan on occupying next.


Ice forms at 3 specific areas and drivers should be mindful of these:

- On bridges caused by the double air surfaces and the lack of ground heating and under bridges in the shaded area of the road on sunny days.

- On the roadway immediately approaching and up to a controlled intersection caused by vehicles sliding to a stop and spinning their wheels under acceleration attempting to move away from the intersection.

- Where roads are super elevated, the ploughed snow often melts during the day and runs in a small river from top to bottom across the entire roadway. This wet surface can freeze overnight and cause an ice patch across the road in the corners.

Many of our own personal vehicles are equipped with anti-lock braking systems (A.B.S.). This is a computerized aid, which eliminates wheel lock-up. It allows for some steering in an emergency stop situation, even on very slippery surfaces. However, few of us have a great understanding of this marvelous piece of equipment.
Contrary to popular belief, A.B.S. will not always stop you in a shorter distance than a conventional braking system. Utilizing the threshold braking technique, which is maximum braking force before wheel lock up, or A.B.S. is activated, may stop you in a shorter distance.
With proper planning by looking far enough ahead of the vehicle, one should next to never have to rely on this system of braking.

Remember, space is your friend. Always drive with a space cushion for yourself as well as for all the other vehicles you encounter along your route. Always drive with an "out" in mind, in other words, let’s try and be a bit more humble in our vehicle operation.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Media advisory,
Thursday, November 26, 2009, 10:30 a.m.,
Humber College, North Campus, 205 Humber College Boulevard,
2009 Holiday R.I.D.E. Campaign launch

Broadcast time: 05:00
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Traffic Services

On Thursday, November 26, 2009, at 10:30 a.m., the 2009 Holiday R.I.D.E. (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) campaign launch will take place at Humber College, North Campus, 205 Humber College Boulevard.

“It’s important to get the message out to youth and members of our community that drinking and driving is not acceptable,” said Humber College President John Davies. “We’re delighted to put our efforts toward public safety in our community.”

Mr. Davies will be present, along with representatives from the following police services:
Toronto Police Service, Durham Regional Police Service, Halton Regional Police Service, Peel Regional Police, York Regional Police, Ontario Provincial Police, Hamilton Police Service and South Simcoe Police Service.

All participating police agencies will be conducting a R.I.D.E spotcheck on Humber College Boulevard immediately following the kick off ceremony. Officers will be available to speak with the media.

Original Toronto Police Press Release

~~Editor's Note~~

Impaired driving remains the number one criminal cause of death in Canada. In today's day and age there is no excuse for this offence occurring. There has never been more availability of information to access that begs everyone to never drive impaired. But this offence still does occur which is a testament to why the efforts of police everywhere are welcomed.

There are so many options available to the public that impaired driving should never happen.
Designated drivers, limo services, taxi's, public transit, hotels are all options that are cheaper than facing the consequences that come with getting arrested, charged and convicted of impaired driving.

Impaired Driving Penalties and Consequences/Costs
The $ and ¢ of it

Have you ever questioned the true value of a cab ride or a designated driver? Here's an example of minimum costs to a first time convicted impaired driver:

Criminal Code Fine........................$1000Payable to the Government of Canada
Remedial Measures Program.....$578Payable to Back on Track + GST
Licence Reinstatement Fee.........$150Payable to the Ministry of Finance + GST
Increase in Insurance Costs.......$15,000*Payable to your insurance company in $5,000 increments each of the next 3 years*minimum increase based on a perfect 6-star driving record
Ignition Interlock...........................$1,350+installation. Pay to interlock provider
Court Costs...................................$2,000 - $10,000 Payable to your legal counsel
TOTAL.............................................$20,078 - $28,078

These numbers, provided by, don't include the possibilities of injuries or death that you may have to live with.

The Toronto Police Service is dedicated to the safety of all Toronto residents and visitors and takes a zero tolerance approach to those people who choose to endanger the lives of everyone with their poor decisions.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Toronto's Pet Peeves for Driving

A couple of weeks ago, I asked Toronto via Twitter and Facebook, "Hey Toronto. What's your biggest pet peeve about other road users? Let me know. I'll be writing about it."

Well, here is the writing about it and the results. I'm not surprised by any of the responses. Hey, I'm a driver too and what upsets me, are the same things that upset you. What did surprise me were the order of popularity of the responses.

Here are honourable mentions that didn't make the top ten. Fail to clear intersections, quick stoppers, late mergers, left on amber/red, fail to assist in passing, fail to lower high beams.

# 10 - Slow drivers.
I don't agree but it is your list. This wasn't laid out as drivers who are in the passing lanes too slow, but just slow drivers in general. Maybe it's not that they are too slow - maybe you are too fast.

# 9 - Slower moving vehicles that pull into your lane while you are travelling faster.
Often the driver looks only at the immediate space around them and not at the big picture of time zones and space.

# 8 - Late left turn signals.
Argh!! Drives me nuts too. Inconsiderate and by not communicating soon enough can really destroy traffic flow. If you would have let me know what you were doing, I wouldn't be stuck behind you now.

# 7 - Distracted Drivers.
Quickly becoming the norm for serious risks to public safety. 27 X increased risk in collision. By the way...hands free does not mean you are minimizing the distraction. It only means you are complying with the law. You are still distracted.

# 6 - Cyclists who disobey the HTA.
Only because this is your list did I include it. All of the responses have a degree of lawlessness to them but there were enough responses that specifically said cyclists, I had to include it here.

# 5 - Left lane bandits.
Most people think this is reserved for the expressways and freeways, but anytime there are multiple lanes you can see this happen. The order of populating lanes is from the right to the left and you only use the left lane for passing...pass over, return to the right.

# 4 - Unsafe lane changes.
These are horrible for so many reasons. The actions of unsafe lane changes can have a domino affect with other drivers over reacting and causing further problems.

#3 - Follow too closely.
Who doesn't get this? You are too close, vehicle in front stops, you can't stop in the space you left...problem. This is the laws of physics explained so simply anyone can get it.

# 2 - Lane cue cutters / Use lanes that end to ram themselves to the front.
This came in most described as the drivers who leave curb lane on an expressway jump on an entrance ramp and pass cars just to cram themselves back into the curb lane again. Illegal, rude, inconsiderate and for pass four or five you got so much further ahead.

# 1 - No signals,
By a land slide! No wonder, take a look and see how many people don't use their signals. What is very disturbing about this offence is that you can't fail to use your signal and not be causing a potential problem. Turn? Need to tell people about it. Lane change? Have to communicate with everyone.

So that's the way you responded. Watch for another question coming soon. In the meantime, here is my top 5...

# 5 - Amber and red light runners.
# 4 - Distracted drivers.
# 3 - Drivers who don't move over, slow down or get out of the way of emergency vehicles.
# 2 - Speeding / aggressive drivers
# 1 - Impaired Drivers.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cops hunt hit & run driver

Don Peat of Sun Media, Toronto Sun, Friday November 20, 2009

Toronto Police are hunting a chronic hit-and-run driver who went on a drug-fuelled car ride that ended with three separate car crashes in five minutes.

The Nov. 11 triple smash up sent three women to hospital with serious injuries, but when cops caught up to the last crash scene around Kingston Rd. and Midland Ave., the suspect's vehicle was there but he was long gone.

Although the unlicensed driver's Nissan Pathfinder was too damaged to keep going, he wasn't, and he ran away.

Richard Atanasoff, 45, of Whitby, is wanted on warrants on charges including dangerous operation of a vehicle causing bodily harm, break and enter, three counts of failing to stop at the scene of an accident and four counts of failing to comply with probation. He is described as white, 6 feet tall, 180 pounds and has brown hair.

Const. Tony Vella said the man broke into a house just before 6 p.m. where a child was home alone. He asked if the mother was home and when the child said no, he waited there. "The child was uninjured and he ran off," Vella said.

The three women, aged 55, 36 and 37, that were injured in the crashes weren't as lucky. They were treated in hospital for serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

Police hope they can track him down before he gets behind the wheel again.

"... We're afraid that something may occur again to the point where someone gets killed," Vella said.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

November 18th, 2009 National Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims

National Day of Rememberance of Road Crash Victims

The National Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims in Canada is a day set aside to remember those killed or seriously injured on Canadian roads, often in avoidable collisions, and those left to deal with the sudden and unexpected loss of people they love.

This year's theme is "Raising awareness of the number of deaths on Canadian roads."

The good news is that we can save lives. In 2008, one life was saved every day because Canada is:

  • Increasing enforcement
  • Introducing new policies
  • Building safer vehicles
  • Changing road user behaviours
  • Improving our roads

But, even though the number of deaths on our roads is going down, there is still a great deal of work to do.

November 18 is your opportunity to remember the victims, and to express your support.

Come back soon for more information on events and tools to help you observe the day in your region!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Top 10 Pedestrian Collision Intersections

In an attempt to continue to raise awareness for pedestrian safety, here are the top 10 Toronto intersections where collisions have occurred as a result of vehicles making right turns making contact with pedestrians crossing with and without the right of way, resulting in serious injury.

1.) Bathurst St / Finch Ave W
2.) Birchmount Rd / Sheppard Ave E
3.) Bathurst St / King St W
4.) McCowan Rd / Sheppard Ave E
5.) Yonge St / Finch Ave E
6.) Sheppard Ave E / Parkway Forrest Dr
7.) Dundas St W / Spadina Ave
8.) Weston Rd / Finch Ave W
9.) Gerrard St E / Main St
10.) Bloor St W / Lansdowne Ave

A few tips for pedestrians to help protect yourself.
- Before stepping onto the road ensure that there is no traffic in the process of commencing a turn.
- Cross only with the right of way.
- Even if you have the right of way, try to get eye contact to ensure you are being seen.
- Continually asses your safety as you cross.
- Wear light coloured or reflective clothing.
- Cross the street as if your life depends on it.

A few tips for drivers to help protect pedestrians.
- When you do not have the right of way, come to a complete stop before turning.
- If you see a pedestrian near the corner, assume first that they will be crossing and proceed cautiously being ready to stop.
- Tap your horn to alert pedestrians to your presence.
- Never try to 'beat' a light or squeeze past a pedestrian.

Click here for more pedestrian safety information.
or go to

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Updated Toronto Road Fatality Board

Click the image to increase the size.

As you can see, the only two ares that Toronto Fatals have increased over 2008 are Automobile Passengers and Pedestrians as a percentage of the total.
Pedestrians represent almost 65% of the total of road deaths.
A few words of advice for all pedestrians:
Be Bright, Be Seen, Wait for the walking person to appear, Cross the street like your life depends on it.
Child Safety Tips

- Be aware of traffic signals, but never completely rely on them.
- Always ask for help in retrieving toys and/or pets which go out into the road to avoid risk of injury.
-Children should not play close to parked and/or moving vehicles.
- Children are small, unpredictable and have difficulties judging vehicle distances and speeds accurately.
- Crossing guards are there to assist pedestrians across the road, obey their signals
- Always use crosswalks to cross the road. Drivers are more likely to see you when you cross at designated crosswalks.
- Look all ways before crossing the street. Be alert and pay attention to on-coming traffic at all times.
- Make eye contact.
- Be bright. Wear bright colours or reflective clothing at night to make yourself more visible to drivers.
- Play in a safe place and keep away from parked cars. Drivers cannot see you in between cars.

Senior Safety Tips
- Be Watchful. Watch your step when getting on or off an escalator. And if your vision is impaired, take the elevator.
- Be Attentive. Use proper escalator posture -- stand at the center of the step facing forward, always holding the handrail. Watch out for loose clothing which may catch.
- Be Refreshed. Avoid leaning on the handrail or resting your foot on the escalator's side. If you're tired and feel unstable, use the elevator.
- Be Sensible. If you're holding too many packages, use the elevator. Anyone balancing packages can lose their balance. Your packages will fall and so might you.
- Be Wise. Escalators are for people on foot, unaided. People who need cane or walker assistance or those pushing a carriage or wheelchair should always use the elevator.
- Be Considerate. Quickly step away from an escalator at the end of your ride. Remember there are people behind you waiting to get off. They'll bump into you and possibly knock you down if there is no where else to go.
For more safety tips visit;

Friday, November 13, 2009

Santa Claus Parade - Road Closures

Santa Claus Parade,
Sunday, November 15, 2009,
Road closures

The 105th annual Santa Claus Parade will take place on Sunday, November 15, 2009, at
12:30 p.m.

Starting at 8:15 a.m., the parade will form up on Bloor Street West at Christie Street.

The following roads will be closed for the parade:
− Bloor Street West, Christie Street to Ossington Avenue, 8:15 a.m.,
− Christie Street, Bloor Street West to Barton Street, 10:30 a.m.,
− Bloor Street West, Christie Street to Bathurst Street, 10:30 a.m.,
− Bloor Street West, Bathurst Street to Avenue Road, 11:30 a.m.,
− Queen's Park, Bloor Street West to College Street, 11:25 a.m.,
− University Avenue, College Street to Dundas Street West, 12 p.m.,
− University Avenue, Dundas Street West to Queen Street West, 12:30 p.m.,
− Dundas Street West, University Avenue to Yonge Street, 1 p.m.,
− Yonge Street, Dundas Street to Front Street, 1:15 p.m.,
− Wellington Street East, Yonge Street to Jarvis Street, 1:30 p.m.:

At 12:30 p.m., the parade will begin and will proceed along the following route:
− Bloor Street, between Ossington Avenue and Christie Street,
− Eastbound on Bloor Street West,
− Southbound on Queen’s Park,
− Southbound on Queen’s Park Crescent East,
− Southbound on University Avenue,
− Eastbound on Dundas Street West,
− Southbound on Yonge Street,
− Eastbound on Front Street East,
− Dispersal Area: Front Street East, between Church Street and Jarvis Street.

Towing of vehicles parked along the parade route will start at 6 a.m., on Sunday, November
15, 2009.

Motorists travelling in the area can expect delays and should attempt to avoid the parade

Spectators attending the parade are advised to use public transportation.

The duration of the parade is approximately 2.5 hours.

This event will take place regardless of weather conditions.

Original Toronto Police Service News Release

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Do you have the need for speed?

Are you competitive? I play sports and love to compete. I teach my kids to play fair and follow the rules. It’s about good sportsmanship, not always about winning. Is driving more like a competitive game for you, or is it a necessity? What would you call “winning” for a driver?

The reason I ask this question is because a lot of drivers feel it’s okay to surpass the speed limit in such a way that it appears there’s no speed limit at all. Why drive well over the speed limit? Is it a thrill for you, or a need? These types of drivers will do 60 km/h or more in a school zone and 100 km/h or more on secondary highways. Drivers who feel they can do this, without regard for public safety, haven’t thought this all the way through. Have they thought about “what if?” What if they lost control of their vehicle? They haven’t taken a professional course on how to handle the vehicle at that speed, so why are they?

What if another driver pulled out suddenly because they weren’t expecting someone to drive so fast? This would cause the speeding driver to suddenly brake or swerve out of the way. A sudden swerve will almost always cause panic, plus a loss of control.

The truth of the matter is that street racing belongs on a controlled track. There’s no place for it on public roads. Innocent people are taken from us because of someone’s need for thrilling activities. This includes passengers, not just drivers. There’s always a place for thrills. If you have the ‘need for speed’, why not join a carting club? If you truly understood speed and inertia, you would need to understand how and when to steer around corners. On a track, there are no pedestrians or drivers in your way who are driving much slower than you. You would be taught to do it properly.

Ken Wilden, who raced in a variety series in Canada and the US, including Formula Atlantic, Indy Lights and the Trans Am series to name a few, has always said to learn your craft from a professional. Racing is a fun sport, but it’s a sport. “If guys want to race, they should go to one of many racing schools available”, says Ken. Once you learn how to do it properly, you’ll have more respect for other road users. One of the participants on Canada’s Worst Driver, season 2, had the need for speed. He took his needs to the go-cart track. He now understands there’s a place for it.

The only race you have on public roads is the human race. Other road users aren’t expecting you to be driving so fast on public roads. Your excessive speed affects their choices as well. So, let’s keep our speed down and keep the racing on the track where it belongs!
~~Editor's Note~~
Thanks again to my good friend, Scott Marshall a.k.a. @safedriver and his blog for providing this article.
Also, re-visit one of my older posts about speeding and the difference you can make by slowing down, click here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Toronto Fatal Collision Count

Click on image.


No matter how long I have done this job, I am still amazed at how many people can't take responsibility for their actions. How many people just can't step up and say, "Yep, I did it, I made a mistake."

I could go on at great length giving example after example, but a recent event is what made me decide to talk about this.

Last night I was leaving a local mall with my children after some shopping. We were walking along the sidewalk towards our car when I saw two ladies walking across the road and get into a van.

The driver reversed out of her parking space and hit a car that was parked on the opposite side of the isle.

This lady then put her van in drive and left. She didn't stop to look at the damage, didn't leave her name, didn't bat an eye at her total incompetence to reverse a vehicle. Bang...

"Well that's far enough, drive by feel, that's my motto!"

Without even getting into the legal issue here, which is obvious, what about the moral responsibility or the ethical issue? It wasn't a tap and go; she hit the other car hard. Hard enough to do damage. There is no doubt in my mind, nor her passengers mind, that she hit the car and decided her next action should be just to drive away.
I hope that is not what you are teaching your children to do. I trust that isn't what your mother taught you to do...unless that was her that was with you.
According to the picture, this driver went right to denial by her actions.

I left my information for the person, who no doubt came out to see a very nice car with a remodelled front end and took some notes in case they are needed down the road.

This lady could be your neighbour, co-worker, friend. Isn't it comforting to know that she is willing to damage your property and have no shame? Just move on with her life like nothing ever happened. What if there had been a child walking between those cars when she was reversing. I wonder if she would have just driven away in the same brazen manner?

Road safety is everyone's responsibility, do your part. The golden rule is also very applicable unto others as you would have them do to you.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Updated Toronto Fatal Board

Click on the image to see the latest data for fatal collisions in Toronto.

Pedestrian Safety

On Novemeber 1st, 2009 the clocks went back allowing us a well deserved extra hour of sleep. The return to Daylight Satandard Time is welcomed by many for different, I like the sleep. But, there is a cost to a society...pedestrian collisions increase around this time of year.

Safety experts in North America recognize that starting around this time and continuing until February pedestrians are at a higher risk for being injured at the hands of motor vehicles. Those experts site the reduced afternoon daylight hours as a major cause of the increase in collisions.

Toronto Transportation data sites the time of the day most frequently to have collisions is the hour between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. That hour on the last work week day before Daylight Standard Time was daylight. On Novemebr 2nd, the next commuter day since the return will be much darker, with sunset happening at 4:45 p.m.

Pedestrians can take a few precautions to help themselves out to avoid becomming injured.

1.) Be bright about it
Wear light coloured clothing, reflective safety wear and pick appropriate spots to cross the street.

2.) Be seen
Don't walk from between parked cars or cross where there is poor lighting. Choose intersections and again, the use of light coloured clothing will help.

3.) Use your eyes before your feet
Get eye contact with drivers and cyclists. Look all directions beofre stepping into traffic flow routes and continue to look ensuring that each step can be followed safely by the next.

4.) Cross the street as if your life depends on it
Quite franklly, it does. The argument of 'right of way' is not a good one to be making from a hospital bed.

The Toronto Police Service is a proud partner with the Toronto Area Safety Coalition and together with Sunnybrook Hospital a new pedestrian safety awarness program has been launched. iNAVIGAIT has valuable information for all ages to and abilities. For more safety tips go to

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Three States of Mind for Drivers

As a former racecar driver, advanced driving instructor and more recently the Founder of, I constantly advocate that people take additional courses to learn how to improve their skills. Without a doubt they can be a lifesaver. I've often said that the greatest problem on our roads is a lack of skill and situational awareness, although our behaviour is a huge factor too. Even if everyone had the skills of professional racecar drivers, collisions would still occur if our state of mind were a problem. In my teachings, I make a point to teach drivers such essentials like situational awareness, forward thinking and the techniques of smooth, precise driving. But no matter how good you are as a skilled driver, our state of mind will always play a factor. A bad day at work or a fight with a significant other can change the way we drive.

Ever found yourself driving more aggressively after having a fight with someone at work? Be honest now...we all have. Have you ever given any thought as to how your state of mind actually affects your driving and how your driving affects other drivers around you? Probably not.

Last winter, I sat in on a Winter Driving Course hosted by Ian Law's Car Control School that focused on advanced driving techniques on snow and ice. Ian Law himself is a racecar driver whom I have shared the track with many times and he also writes for Although not imperative to the course, the instructors took the time to discuss the "Three States of Mind" exhibited on our roads, which is a concept that Ian discusses not only in his training course but also in some of his articles. Here I will try to summarize those concepts although with my own twist.

Child State
We see this one all the time. The "Child" drivers are the ones that speed along excessively, weaving in and out of traffic, seemingly without a care in the world or any consideration for other motorists. They are the ones seen cutting people off, tailgating and generally putting everyone (including themselves) at risk of a collision. They believe that the road is theirs and theirs alone and are frustrated that you are in their way. Or worse...think the road is their personal racetrack. If you will forgive the generalization, they are usually younger males who think they are invincible and that they have the skills to perform risky manoeuvres time and time again without any consideration for those around them. They have no sense of personal responsibility for the task of driving a vehicle and are generally want-to-be racers, driving supped up cars or super sport motorcycles. However the only proper place to race is on a racetrack, which is also a foreign concept to "child" like motorists.

Parent State
We see this one a lot too. The "Parents" are the ones that for whatever reason think that it's their job to teach other drivers a lesson of some sort. When someone cuts them off, they will tailgate or worse pass them and cut the "offending" driver off too in an attempt to teach them a lesson. They are also the ones seen "closing the door" on drivers who are attempting to merge into their lane but wait for the last moment to do so, refusing to let them in. "Oh no you don't! You waited too long...I'm not letting you in now". For whatever reason, they feel that they need to enforce their own ideas of the rules of the road. This type of behaviour can be just as dangerous (if not more so) as the "Child" state. When they see a driver behaving dangerously, they tend to add to an already dangerous situation in their attempt to teach others a lesson. This often escalates into road rage, which can in turn become very dangerous, especially when squaring off against "children" who retaliates with their own "I'll show you" attitude. The child becomes a parent too and now two "parents" are going head to head and things only get worse from there.

Adult State
The "Adults" are the ones that, I believe, we actually see the most, although recognize the least. They are the ones that always take a deep breath and think rationally and calmly. These are the drivers that, by their own actions, reduce the number of collisions on our roads because they don't allow dangerous situations to escalate and allow for a dangerous situation to become a safer one. They don't drive recklessly or erratically. When someone cuts them off, they ease off the throttle to open a safe distance and when someone needs to merge into their lane...they let them. These are the safe, courteous drivers on our roads and the ones who should be commended for remaining calm and attentive to their surroundings. They recognize dangerous drivers and give them space and thusly avoid collisions far more often. We see examples of all three each and every day on our roads but we should all try and be "adults". Skill and situational awareness are hugely important but so are our attitudes and behaviours.

So next time you go for a drive or a ride on your bike, ask yourself...what State of Mind are you in?
~~Editors Note~~
Special thanks to Shaun de Jager for this article posted originally on his site;

Thursday, October 29, 2009

More Information on Ontario's New Distracted Driving

Ontario’s ban on hand-held devices while driving will took effect October 26, 2009.

The new law makes it illegal for drivers to talk, text, type, dial or e-mail using hand-held cell phones and other hand-held communications and entertainment devices. The use of hands-free devices will still be permitted.

Following a three-month period that began October 26, where the focus will be on educating drivers, police will start issuing tickets on February 1, 2010. Police will still have the ability to issue charges that are relevant to exhibited driving behaviours that put the public at risk.

Studies show that a driver using a cell phone is four times more likely to be in a crash than a driver focused on the road. Other studies show that dialing and texting carries the highest degree of risk of all cell phone-related activities.

Police, paramedics and firefighters will continue to be allowed to use hand-held devices when performing their duties. All drivers may use hand-held devices to call 9-1-1.

Under Ontario’s new law, fines of up to $500 can be levied against distracted drivers who text, type, email, dial, or chat using a prohibited hand-held device.

Ontario joins more than 50 countries worldwide and a growing number of North American jurisdictions that have similar distracted driving legislation including Quebec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, California and New York.

Teens and young people under 35 are the most frequent users of cell phones while driving.
For more information, please visit

To help reduce the temptation of distraction by hand-held devices, it is recommended that you should turn off notification alerts beofre driving. It is natural that when a notification is received, people will look at their device. This in itself is a dangerous act and needs to be avoided.

The new law applies only to hand-held wireless communications and hand-held electronic entertainment devices. This means drivers must only use wireless devices that can be used in a "hands-free" manner:
- a cell phone with an earpiece or headset using voice dialling, or plugged into the vehicle's sound system
- a global positioning system (GPS) device that is properly secured to the dashboard or another accessible place in the vehicle
- a portable audio player that has been plugged into the vehicle’s sound system.

Some wireless devices require that users push a button to activate and/or deactivate the device's "hands-free" function. This activity is permitted under the law.

All drivers
Drivers will not be permitted to use hand-held communication and entertainment devices when driving, with the following exceptions:
Calling 9-1-1 in an emergency situation
When the driver has safely pulled off the roadway and is stationary or is lawfully parked.
Other devices not included in the ban:
Viewing a display screen used for collision avoidance systems
Viewing a display screen of an instrument, gauge or system that provides information to the driver about the status of systems in the motor vehicle.

Emergency response personnel
Police, fire department and emergency medical services personnel will be permitted to use hand-held wireless communications devices and view display screens in the normal performance of their duties.
The use of hand-held radios by amateur radio operators (who provide assistance, especially in emergency situations such as severe storms and blackouts) will be phased out within three years, to allow hands-free technologies to be developed.

Commercial drivers
A small percentage of drivers in transport-related industries (e.g., school buses, taxis, couriers) and public service workers (e.g., transit and highway maintenance workers) rely on the use of certain types of wireless devices and display screen technologies in the performance of day-to-day operations.

To help these businesses stay competitive, Ontario is granting a three-year phase-out period for the commercial use of two-way radios, including mobile and CB radios, to allow for hands-free technologies to be developed.

The new law will not affect mobile data terminals, logistical tracking devices and dispatching devices. They will be exempt for commercial and public service vehicle drivers who are engaged in the performance of their duties.

Hand-mikes (push-to-talk systems) and portable radios (walkie-talkies) may be used in a hands-free mode. This would mean the driver can use a lapel button or other hands-free application as long as the hand-mike or walkie-talkies is not held while driving.

Sample Driver Scenarios
The following four examples show how drivers can make a few simple changes to their everyday routine in order to safely comply with the new law. In all situations, drivers are reminded that driving safely is priority one.

Mark, studentAs a university student, Mark is always on the road: traveling from home to school and hooking up with friends after class. Mark frequently uses his time behind the wheel to send text messages to friends and family.

Under Ontario’s new law, Mark will no longer be allowed to type phone numbers or text messages into his hand-held device. If he needs to talk with friends, he could use an earpiece to talk with his friends in a hands-free manner. While Mark won’t be able to dial his friends’ numbers using his fingers, he may press a button on the base of the device to activate the “hands-free mode”, and then use the voice dialing function to place calls.

Mark can only send text messages if he is safely pulled off the road and is stationary or is lawfully parked.

Debra, marketing managerWhenever Debra’s on the road, she’s on her smart phone: making the most of her long commute to work by responding to important emails as she drives.

Under Ontario’s new law, Debra won’t be able to send emails unless she does so in a hands-free manner. Reading emails from her smart phone’s display screen will also be prohibited. If she needs to send and receive emails, she can do so in a ‘hands-free mode’ that will allow her to dictate and send emails by voice, and have the emails she receives read back to her by the device.

Faisal, weekend travellerFaisal never leaves home without his hand-held Global Positioning System (GPS) device. Every weekend, Faisal plots his travel destinations on the device before he leaves home, but often picks up the device to make adjustments as he drives.
He will no longer be permitted to make adjustments on the GPS device while driving, under Ontario’s new law. He can only continue to use his GPS device while driving if he attaches it securely to his dashboard to verify his location. To drive as safely as possible, Faisal should use the device’s voice command function to minimize the need to look at the GPS display screen.

Jackie, music-loverJackie always listens to her MP3 player in the car, and frequently picks up the device to find her favorite driving songs.

Under Ontario’s new law, Jackie can no longer use the MP3 player with her hands. However, Jackie could use the device if it is plugged into her car’s sound system. To use the device in a hands-free manner, Jackie should select her play list before she leaves home. This way, she will be able to push a single button to activate the device while staying focused on the road.

Thanks to for their assistance with this article.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Toronto - Goodlife Fitness Marathon - Road Closure Information

The Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon will take place on Sunday, October 18th, 2009.
This event will create a major disruption to traffic flow for most of the day.
It is highly recommended that if you are coming into the southern part of the city that day, you take public transit.
If you must drive:
-know alternate routes for where you are travelling
-leave plenty of extra time
-consider going well around the immediate route as the entire area will see significant delays.

Date October 18th 2009
Unit Special Events Planning
Phone (416) 808-5086

On Sunday, October 18th, 2009 the Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon will host the 15th Annual Marathon. The event will consist of a Full Marathon, Corporate Relay Marathon, Half Marathon and 5km run

Road Closures: 03:30 hours to 16:00 hours

Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon Course Description 2009 Marathon: 9:00 a.m

The Marathon begins behind Mel Lastman Square on Beecroft Ave. Participants run north to Park Home and then turn east to Yonge St. Runners proceed South on Yonge St. to Chaplin, west on Chaplin to Oriole Parkway. South on Oriole Parkway to Lonsdale Rd. West on Lonsdale to Spadina Rd. South on Spadina Rd. around Casa Loma to Macpherson. East on MacPherson to Davenport Rd. and continue to Belmont St. East on Belmont through Yonge St. to Aylmer Ave. South on Aylmer to Rosedale Valley Rd. to Bayview Ave. South to King St. to Sumach St. to Eastern Ave. West on Eastern Ave to Front St and follow to Wellington St. and continue to University Ave. Turn South on University to York St through to Queens Quay. West on Queen's Quay past Stadium Rd. to Remembrance and Aquatic Drives and Martin Goodman Trail to just east of the Humber River. Turnaround going east through parking lot to Lakeshore Blvd W, curb lane e/b to Stadium Road, South on Stadium Road to Queens Quay W to York St and then North on University to the finish line at Queen's Park.

Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon Course Description 2009 Marathon: 9:00 a.m

Start – 09:00
FULL Marathon
Beecroft – E side at Delivery Entrance to 153/155 Beecroft
South of North York Blvd.
North on Beecroft (full road)
To Park Home Ave (full road)
East on Park Home
To Yonge St (all s/b lanes Ellerslie to Alylmer)
South on Yonge St
To Chaplin Cres (half road – north side)
West on Chaplin
To Oriole Parkway (half road – west side)
South On Oriole Parkway
To Lonsdale Road (half road – north side)
West on Lonsdale
To Spadina Road (half s/b lanes)
South on Spadina
To Austin Terrace (half road – west side)
West On Austin Terrace
To Walmer Road (half road – west side)
South on Walmer
To MacPherson Ave (half road – south side)
East on MacPherson
To Davenport Road (bike lane North curb lane)
S/E on Davenport
To Belmont Street (full road)
East on Belmont
thru Yonge St to Aylmer Ave. (full road)
South on Aylmer
To Rosedale Valley Rd (full road)
S/E on Rosedale Valley Rd
To Bayview Ave (full road)
South on Bayview
To River St (full road)
South and West on River
To King St (two lanes North side)
West on King St
To Sumach St (full road)
South on Sumach
To Eastern Ave (two curb lanes North side)
West On Eastern
To Front Street (full road)
West on Front
To Wellington Street (full road)
West on Wellington
To University Ave (all Northbound lanes)
South on University
To York Street (half road northbound lanes)
South on York
To Queen’s Quay (full road south side)
West on Queen’s Quay
Past Stadium Road (full road south side)
West on Remembrance
West on Aquatic
West Thru the Martin Goodman Trail (full road)
West of Martin Goodman Trail
To just east of the Humber River
East through parking lot to Lakeshore Blvd W
East on Lakeshore Blvd W
Stadium Rd (s/b lane on Stadium Rd)
South on Stadium Rd
To Queens Quay West (full road)
East on Queen’s Quay
To York Street (all northbound lanes)
North on York Street
To University Ave (all northbound lanes)
North on University
To Queen’s Park (full road)
South of Hoskin Ave

Relay: 9:20 a.m. Start
The Relay follows the same route as the Marathon.

Half Marathon: 8:00 a.m. Start

Beginning behind Mel Lastman Square on Beecroft Ave., the course heads north to Ellerslie and then turns east to Yonge St. Yonge St. south to Aylmer Rd. and then turns east towards Rosedale Valley Rd. and Bayview Ave. At Bayview, it turns south to King St. At King, turn west to Sumach St., south on Sumach St. and then west on Eastern Ave. to Front St. Running through the historic St. Lawrence Market on Front St. to Wellington St. North on University Ave to the finish at Queen's Park.

Start 08:00
Half Marathon
Beecroft – East side 50m S of North York Blvd
North on Beecroft (full road)
To Ellerslie (full road)
East on Ellerslie
To Yonge Street (all southbound lanes Ellerslie to Aylmer)
South On Yonge St
To Aylmer Road (full road)
South on Aylmer
To Rosedale Valley Road (full road)
S/E on Rosedale Valley Rd
To Bayview Ave (full road)
South on Bayview
To River St (full road)
South and West on River
To King St (two lanes north side)
West on King St
To Sumach St (full road)
South on Sumach
To Eastern Ave (two curb lanes north side)
West On Eastern
To Front Street (full road)
West on Front (thru St Lawrence Market)
To Wellington Street (full road)
West on Wellington
To University Ave (all northbound lanes)
North on University
To Queens Park (full road)
South of Hoskin Ave

The Half Marathon Walk begins at the same time as the Half Marathon and follows the same course.

5K: 8:00 a.m. Start @ Queen’s Park
Starting on the north east corner of Queen's Park and running south on the west side of University Avenue to Wellington Street, the course turns north on to the east side on University Avenue to the finish line opposite Hart House.

Start – 5km – 08:00
Queens Park near # 78 (Full Road)
On Queens Park Cr West (Full Road)
On Queens Park (all southbound lanes)
On University Ave (all southbound lanes)
At Wellington St W (turnaround)
On University Ave (all Northbound lanes)
On Queens Park (all northbound lanes)
On Queens Park Cr W (full road)
On Queens Park Cr W (full road)
South of Hoskin Ave

Motorists are advised to avoid the area, and consider the road closure when planning for their travels.

The event will proceed regardless of weather conditions.

Saturday, October 16th, 2009 - Road Closure

Oasis Zoo Run 10k,
Saturday, October 17, 2009,

Road closures
Broadcast time: 06:00
Friday, October 16, 2009
Special Events

On Saturday, October 17, 2009, RCP International will be hosting the “Oasis Zoo Run 10k.”
Road closures:
− at 8:50 a.m., the area surrounding the Toronto Zoo will be completely blocked to all
vehicular traffic.

These road closures will remain in effect until approximately 10 a.m.
− Meadowvale Road will be closed from Sheppard Avenue East to Plug Hat Road,
− Old Finch Avenue will be closed from Reesor Road to Meadowvale Road.

Motorists are advised to use alternate routes to avoid congestion.

This event will proceed regardless of weather

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Driver Education: Stop signs should be obeyed

For years, debate has raged as to whether to stop or slow down at the big red octagon posted at an intersection.

Is there a difference and does it really matter?

The short answer is, yes, there is a difference, and, yes, it does matter. Let me explain what happens when you approach a stop sign and what you can do to ensure your driving is as safe as possible.

I recently spoke to a licensed driver who had a few driving problems. I had taken him out for an evaluation and noticed immediately that he rolled his stops. He wasn’t aware of it until I told him.

He argued with me and was pretty certain he had stopped. To illustrate the point, I asked him to verbalize his actions at the next stop sign.

His explanation basically went as follows: “Coming to my stopping position, slowing down, checking the intersection, it’s clear, so I can go.”

And then he proceeded through the intersection without stopping.

Nowhere in his dialogue did he say that he felt the vehicle come to a stop. After he said he was slowing down, he immediately went into scanning the intersection. That’s the part that confuses many people. We are so concerned about continuing along to our destination that we forget about stopping. Not only can this lead to a traffic violation, but also to a collision.

Our brain plays tricks on us when we’re stopping. Once you notice a stop sign you need to begin to slow down. After feeling the vehicle stop, you should then scan the intersection to see if it’s clear to enter. Once seeing that it’s clear, you should proceed through the intersection.

Drivers who roll stops often fool themselves into thinking they have stopped. For example, if you scan the intersection as you slow down and notice that it’s clear, your brain tells you to go. Your brain tells you it’s clear, so you end up bypassing the actual stopping process without realizing it.

The problem is that you actually think you’ve stopped.

People have argued with me about this from time to time, and I also know they have argued with the police officer who pulled them over for a rolling stop. The driver actually believes they fully stopped. And why wouldn’t they? They were originally thinking about stopping, but then changed their thought process.

Have you ever argued with someone, including your passenger, who said you rolled a stop?
The driver I was out with recently said afterwards that it feels like he’s taking so much longer to get to his destinations because he has to come to a full stop.

I worked it out for him like this: If you roll through 10 stops, at an average savings of two seconds per stop, you’ve saved a total of 20 seconds. Yes, 20 seconds. What activity could you possibly do that’s so worthwhile that you can do it in those 20 seconds?

While the law says you must make a full stop, it also allows you to properly scan the intersection. If you’re thinking about stopping first, then you’ll be looking for other road users who may be entering the intersection, including pedestrians, other drivers and cyclists.

I have a 10-minute walk from the parking lot to my office and many times I’ve had to stop walking through a crosswalk or had to cross quickly because a driver rolled through a stop. They only slowed down enough to make it look like they’ve stopped so they wouldn’t get a ticket.

That’s not good enough for the safety of others.

I’ve witnessed many drivers also doing the dreaded rolling stop while turning right on a red light. Recently, I watched a driver roll through the red light so abruptly that another driver who had a green light was cut off.

Remember, you may turn right on a red light if it’s clear of all other road users, but you must stop first.

That stop sign at an intersection doesn’t mean ‘slow and go’. It means what it says.

Reposted from The DRIVER Magazine.
Written by, Scott Marshall

Red-light city - Facebook protest hopes to STOP! out-of-sync traffic signals

Article from the Toronto Sun, Thursday, October 15, 2009

Drivers of Toronto, arise. You have nothing to lose but your migraines.

At last! A rebellion against the headache that is our traffic light system.

Unless you are dead or from Ottawa, or you are a cyclist or a city councillor, you know what I mean.

"Frustrating," fumes Ian Chamandy, creator of Toronto Says STOP! -- a Facebook protest against out-of-sync lights.

Says Chamandy: "I've driven in cities around the world. They may have congestion -- but their traffic lights don't compound the problem.

"Drive up Saint-Laurent or Saint-Denis in Montreal, or Fifth Ave. in Manhattan, and you can see lights turning green ahead of you.

"As long as you stick to the speed limit, you keep moving. Toronto is the only city where they work at making you stop at every light. It can't be accidental." Amen, brother Ian. I've bellyached about out-of-sync lights for years.

Last time I asked City Hall, urban traffic manager Bruce Zvaniga told me the focus was transit, not cars.

Zvaniga and his Orcs are installing TransSuite lights, which wait on green while buses and streetcars pick up passengers -- and to hell with cars idling at the cross road. Not to mention, they screw up all synchronicity up and down the street.

Now I've learned cyclists, too, can hijack traffic lights.

I hesitate to explain how, or they'll all do it. But look for three small dots on the pavement where bicycle lanes meet traffic lights. Stop your bike on those dots. A sensor reads you. Abracadabra!

The light turns green.

Just for fun, park your bike there all day -- and drive drivers nuts.

Not that we aren't wacko already.

Drive up University Ave. Bad news is you'll hit every red. Good news is that when the frustration triggers a massive coronary, there's a row of hospitals right there.
Lakeshore. Eglinton. Dundas. The Queensway. Bloor. Ossington. Dufferin. Steeles. Show me any major street in this town and I'll show you a red-light district.

I reach Chamandy in his car. "Just coming up to King St.," he says. "Whoa, here comes another red light, 4-3-2-1. There it is. (Sigh). Four more lights to the Gardiner."

Chamandy, a business adviser who helped develop CITY-TV's Speakers Corner, has done informal tests on T.O. roads for 20 years.

"I can't find a single street where the lights are co-ordinated to turn green."

Me neither. Why? Simple. It's another way for our anti-car politicians to punish drivers.
In two years, every corner in the city will have those sadistic TransSuite signals.
TTC bosses insisted. They could have followed York Region's example -- transit friendly, but better balanced, lights.

But no. Not in Hogtown. Drivers, suck it up.

"It's a political decision," chief traffic lights engineer Raj Bissessar tells me. "Cars are at the very bottom of the priority list."

Another thing. Nine (9) engineers and technicians oversee Toronto's 2,200 sets of traffic lights.

Lights should be reset to new flows every three to five years, Bissessar tells me. "Some streets we haven't been back over in the longest while, 10 years or more."

No wonder it's so hard to catch a green in this town.

And it's not just a pain in the rear. A 2006 Transport Canada study says congestion in Toronto costs $1.6 billion a year in gas, lost work hours and pollution -- and you know red lights are major culprits.

Enough, already. Toronto Says STOP! is looking for friends on Facebook.

Chamandy aims for 50,000 members, to make stoplights an issue in next fall's election.

"It blows me away that we have 100s of thousands of car commuters every day -- that's 100s of thousands of angry customers -- and nobody does anything about it."

Makes you see red, eh?


To read the original article, click here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Poll Results and New Poll Question

In our last poll, you were asked:
What do you think is the worst distraction to driving?
Multiple answers were allowed, so in some votes, all the options were chosen. This week, the votes are not shown by percentages, but instead by the actual number of votes for each.

Hand held phone conversations - 13
Texting / Emailing - 31
Reading - 15
Other people in the vehicle - 5
Eating - 10
Hands free phone conversations - 9

All of the above are distractions. Not surprising were the number of people who view texting and emailing as the number one distraction. I would of thought reading would be right up there, since it takes as much attention away from driving.

I suppose the low number of votes for eating would be some people's consideration that many foods can be consumed without taking away much attention from the road. Although also a distraction, other people in the vehicle can be beneficial as there are more eyes on the road and the driver can be alerted to danger by the gasps of fear coming from their passengers.

When the new distracted driving legislation comes into effect on October 26th police will have the power to charge people with a specific offence which labels the form of distraction.

Here are a couple of tips to help you handle the distractions from electronic devices:
Never use them while driving.
Turn off notifications while driving.
Park somewhere safe if you must use a device while in a motor vehicle.
Use headphones for passengers using entertainment devices.

Do you plan on preparing your vehicle for winter with a maintenance check up and or winter / snow tires?

Vote on the right side bar of this blog.

Crash kills one, injures another on Kennedy Road

Updated: Tue Oct. 13 2009 3:14:07 PM
Courtesy of (complete story with video, click here)

Toronto police are investigating the circumstances surrounding a fatal minivan crash on Kennedy Road, which killed one man and left another man seriously injured on Tuesday morning.

"It was just like a 'bang,' and then I saw smoke from the fire. The vehicle was on fire," witness Keysha Salter told CTV Toronto.

Sgt. Tim Burrows told that police were called to the crash scene at approximately 6:55 a.m.

A blue Chrysler minivan was headed southbound on Kennedy Road, north of Ellesmere Road, when it struck the centre median between the northbound and southbound lanes.

A truck driver helped put the fire out. A passing TTC bus driver helped pull the driver from the vehicle.

The 27-year-old male driver was taken to hospital. He was originally thought to have life-threatening injuries, but is injuries are now considered to be serious but non-life-threatening.
The 39-year-old male passenger from Brampton, Ont., died at the scene of massive head injuries. He is Toronto's 29th traffic fatality of 2009.

He was partially ejected from the vehicle as a result of the crash, Burrows said.
Initial indications are that the minivan was travelling at "a high rate of speed" at the time of the crash, Burrows said.

Police are currently investigating reports that the minivan was fleeing from the scene of another collision -- involving another vehicle that was hit on the ramp off the eastbound Highway 401 onto Kennedy Road -- that occurred only moments before the fatal crash.

Brad Becker, driver of the pickup truck rear-ended before the fatal crash, said: "He just rear-ended me and pushed me out in the intersection. By the time I got my bearings, looked around, the van was gone. I could see it going down south Kennedy."

Anyone with information is asked to contact the traffic services office at 416-808-1900.

Monday, October 5, 2009

5 hours, 184 tickets

Cops target cyclists for breaking rules of the road during marathon blitz
Last Updated: 4th October 2009, 4:51am

At 6 p.m. on a night earlier this week, a cyclist heading east on the Danforth slowed down at a red light at Playter Blvd. and came to a full and complete stop.

Toronto Police Sgt. Jack West, driving a 54 Division minivan, couldn't help but notice the relative rarity of such a sight. In addition to the mere fact she actually stopped at the red, the cyclist seemed to be observing all the rules of the road.

She was also wearing a helmet -- even though it's not mandatory for cyclists over 18 -- and she even had the requisite bell and reflective lights on her bike. And after the light turned green, this safety conscious cyclist actually used hand signals when she went to change lanes to avoid the parked cars along the curb on Danforth Ave.

"Awesome behaviour of a cyclist," West noted.

Although more cyclists are adhering to the rules of the road, too many cyclists still do not, according to cops like West, who monitor local streets.

On the same night he observed that responsible cyclist, police in 54 Division -- encompassing the east side from Danforth Ave. north to Eglinton Ave. E., between the Don River and Victoria Park Ave. --issued 184 tickets against cyclists in a five-hour blitz, from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m.
And although police across the city enforce laws for cyclists, West wanted to organize a concentrated effort in 54 Division to get the word out that police are serious about cyclists -- and drivers -- who break the law.

For the three weeks prior to Wednesday evening, police in the division had handed out hundreds of flyers to cyclists in an effort to make them aware of the law as it pertains to them. For instance, all bicycles in Ontario must have a working bell or horn and they must have proper lighting, which includes a white light or reflector tape in the front and red in the back. Fines range from $18.75 for riding on the sidewalk to $325 for careless driving, although most fines are $110.

The riding habits of cyclists have been under increased scrutiny since former attorney general Michael Bryant was allegedly involved in an Aug. 31 fatal incident with a cyclist, Darcy Allan Sheppard. As well, with the province this week legalizing electric bikes, the roads are only going to see more pedal-pushers.

West, the lead traffic cop in 54 Division, said there are more cyclists on the road but also more irresponsible cyclists too.

He estimates of the approximately 150 cyclists he saw during the blitz, only 35 were fully compliant.

West wants all of the cyclists in his police division to be fully compliant, for their sake as well as for the drivers and pedestrians with whom they share the road.

"There are more cyclists today," West said.

"I think it's a fantastic mode of transportation. I want cyclists to understand the law in order to protect themselves."

Of that 184 tickets police issued to cyclists, 49 went to bikers whose bikes didn't have a working bell. Forty of the tickets were issued because the cyclist didn't have proper working lights, and 38 were issued to cyclists who were riding on the sidewalk. Other citations were given to cyclists who didn't stop at red lights or who made improper lane changes.

It's part of West's effort to emphasize the fact that bikes need to make themselves obvious on the road. It's a stance he repeats several times during the enforcement blitz.

"A bicycle is a small unit, therefore there's two important factors to me," West said.

"They have to be seen and they have to be heard. That's why the lighting and the bell are important."

Cops also tagged drivers -- though not as aggressively as cyclists, judging by the numbers -- but only wrote five tickets to motorists who made life difficult for cyclists.

Those offences included three improper turns, one failure to signal a lane change, and one ticket for a driver who opened his door in the path of a cyclist.

The cyclist didn't hit the door, thankfully.

"I just think that for years, we've been enforcing the highway traffic act on drivers," said West, adding the focus of enforcement on drivers has contributed to a lax attitude among cyclists, too many of whom blatantly ignore the rules of the road while riding.

But still, drivers need to be aware that they share the road equally with cyclists, West said.

"If both the motorists and the cyclists start obeying the existing laws, we're all going to get along better," he said.