Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Saving Lives, One Stop at a Time

Excerpt from "The Police Chief" Magazine - March 2009
By Joel Bolton, Project Manager, Gulf States Regional Center for Public Safety Innovation, Natchitoches, Louisiana

The manner in which law enforcement agencies approach their traffic safety responsibilities varies widely. Although there are many reasons that one agency has a stellar program while a neighboring department ignores its traffic safety role, the single most significant difference can be summed up in one word: commitment.
The bottom line in traffic safety is saving lives—and the reality is that lives are saved one stop at a time. Day after day, night after night, dedicated officers save lives by working to detect impaired drivers, to reduce speed violations, and to educate the public about seat belt use.
Clearly, many agencies—as demonstrated through the many submissions to the IACP’s National Law Enforcement Challenge—are committed to making a difference in traffic safety in their communities. Those agencies are reducing death and injury rates from crashes and are enjoying the benefits of community support for their work to improve public safety.
In a presentation at the 115th Annual IACP Conference in San Diego, New Hampshire’s assistant commissioner of safety and long-time chair of the IACP’s Highway Safety Committee Earl Sweeney noted that a traffic stop is generally the first solo act of a young patrol officer. The task, he notes, requires only a few tools: enough knowledge of the law to recognize a violation, a ticket book, and the “obligatory Cross pen.”

The Complete Traffic Stop

Making a good, complete traffic stop requires a more well-rounded skill set than many officers have been trained or encouraged to possess. The stop presents an opportunity to increase public safety, improve the motorist’s view of the agency, and affect crime. A properly completed traffic stop can change a driver’s attitude or behavior for the long term, increasing the safety of every roadway user.
Officers can command respect for themselves and the uniform through the professional actions they take at the roadside. The only contact most adults will ever have with a police officer will be in the setting of traffic stops, meaning that this brief contact can have lasting implications on how violators view all law enforcement officers.
In addition to increasing safety and improving public attitudes, the simple traffic stop is also a powerful tool in an agency’s crime-fighting arsenal. “You never know who you might encounter during a stop for a minor traffic violation,” Chief Ronal Serpas of the Metropolitan Nashville, Tennessee, Police Department said after an indicted child rapist was nabbed in his jurisdiction on a stop earlier this year.1
Highly visible traffic enforcement has been proven to reduce crime rates and improve public safety. Data collected during numerous traffic safety campaigns demonstrate the ability of traffic enforcement to apprehend fugitives, detect stolen vehicles, interdict drug trafficking, and get illegal weapons off the street.
For an example, consider the number of individuals wanted for murder that have been arrested through a good traffic stop. The Nebraska State Patrol found an Ohio murder suspect on a traffic stop for an improper turn last year.2 San Francisco Police found a murder suspect from Sacramento after an unsafe left turn.3 The examples of alert police work on simple traffic stops—from major metropolitan and remote rural areas—are many.
Simple traffic stops also affect homeland security and ongoing investigations. One of the best-known traffic stops of all time occurred when Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Charlie Hangar (now the sheriff of Noble County, Oklahoma) stopped Timothy McVeigh for failure to display license tags; in doing so, he captured a co-conspirator in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Cannabis causes dangerous driving

Researchers in Canada have found that young men who are impulsive thrill-seekers are more likely to admit to driving while high on marijuana. The researchers from the University of Montreal found that men who drove under the influence of cannabis were also more likely to report certain risky driving behaviours, and tend to get in more accidents.
The research report in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention also made the interesting suggestion that public health messages intended to discourage people from driving while high “should include an arousing and unconventional format” so they won’t be “redundant and boring” for their intended audience.
Studies have shown that people’s driving skills are impaired within the first hour after smoking pot, they add. And it’s also possible, according to Richer and Bergeron, that people who get behind the wheel after smoking marijuana are also by nature more likely to be dangerous drivers.
The research team focused on 83 men ranging in age from 17 to 49, of whom 30 admitted to being pot smokers. From these individuals, 80% said they had driven under the influence of marijuana in the past 12 months. Of all the study participants, 35% had been involved in at least one car crash in the past three years.
Study participants were placed in driving simulators and also completed a driving test under time pressure. The pot-smoking drivers were more likely to be engaged in risky driving, meaning driving in a careless way that could hurt others but isn’t intended to do so; and negative emotional driving, for example, getting angry with other motorists.It is important for road users to be aware to the dangers that some substances might have on their driving ability. Drunk driving is not only driving whilst intoxicated with alcohol- but also driving under the influence of cannabis and other drugs!
Only drive when sober and able to focus on the road ahead – you have one life –don’t take a chance with it!!
Visit the Arrive Alive road safety website for more information about drunken driving!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Man seriously hurt after hit and run

Adrian Morrow Staff Reporter - Toronto Star
A man is in hospital after a hit-and-run on Jane St. last night.
Shortly after 11:30 p.m., two men were crossing the street north of Lawrence Ave. The first man had crossed through the curb lane when the man behind him was run down, just after he had stepped onto the street.
The vehicle kept driving north on Jane St. and didn't try to stop.
The man was taken to hospital with serious, non-life-threatening injuries. He is believed to have been crossing with the light.
Anyone who can help police track down the driver of the vehicle can contact them at 416-808-1900 or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS (8477).

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Fatality puts focus on phones

Theresa Boyle Staff Reporter
When it comes to talking on your cellphone, beware of multi-tasking.
That's the advice from Toronto academics the day after a woman was killed in Toronto when she walked into a truck while talking on her cellphone.
"There are limits to how much we can attend to at one time," explained Michael Inzlicht, an assistant psychology professor at the University of Toronto, Scarborough campus.
Focusing attention is very much like shining a spotlight, he said yesterday. "You've got a visual array in front of you, but the spotlight will focus only on what's being illuminated," he said, adding you may physically perceive other objects but they won't necessarily register.

The same issue is raised in the debate over the province's plan to ban the use of cellphones while driving.
Inzlicht said it has been long known our brains are not well adapted to handling two demanding tasks at a time and there are numerous studies that show this.
In a 1953 test conducted by Colin Cherry from Imperial College London, participants were asked to wear headphones on which one recording played through the right ear while a different one simultaneously played through the left. Participants could easily tune into either one of the messages, but had difficulty focusing on both at once.
In a 1999 study by Daniel Simons of the University of Illinois and Christopher Chabris of Harvard University, subjects were asked to watch a short video in which two groups of people pass a basketball among themselves. Subjects were told to count the number of passes made by one of the teams or to keep count of bounce passes vs. aerial passes. The viewers were then asked if they noticed anything unusual on the video. In most groups that did the test, 50 per cent of subjects did not notice someone dressed in a gorilla suit walk through the scene. The video has become a YouTube sensation.

Oren Amitay, a psychology lecturer at both Ryerson University and the University of Toronto Scarborough, said our emotional engagement in an activity can also impact our ability to multi-task. He notes that a part of the brain, known as the amygdala, lights up on MRI scans when an individual becomes emotionally engaged.
"When you're really emotionally engaged, that limits your ability to concentrate or to physically do other things," he said. "If you're having a conversation and say all of a sudden you remember some past fight, that amygdala is firing on all cylinders."
Amitay points out when people are walking and talking on their cellphones, they tend to look down.
"... We're trying to block out all these other sensory inputs," he says.
Neither Inzlicht nor Amitay were aware of the particular circumstances that led to the death of the woman in Toronto and were speaking only in generalities.

Cellphone distracted victim: Cops

Attempting to cross a busy downtown street while talking on a cellphone proved to be a deadly combination for a 28-year-old woman.
Toronto Police say the woman was standing on the northwest corner of Front St. and Blue Jays Way just before 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, waiting to cross to the south side of the street, when a southbound delivery truck pulled up to the intersection and turned right in front of her as the light changed.
"The victim was on a cellphone at the time and she literally walked into the side of the truck as it was making its turn," Sgt. Tim Burrows said yesterday. "She was knocked down and the rear wheels of the truck drove over top of her."
The woman, whose name has not been released, died at the scene becoming the city's ninth traffic fatality of the year.
Police are still investigating and no charges have been laid. But the death has renewed concerns over pedestrian use of cellphones and other devices.
"We harp on motorists not to drive distracted, but pedestrians need to know as well that these distractions can have extreme consequences," Burrows said.
"Whether you are talking on your cell, texting while you're walking, or wearing earbuds listening to music, you turn off so much of your sensory perception and your focus is not on safety," he explained.
It's believed the woman killed out front of the Rogers Centre was holding her cellphone to her ear, which Burrows said reduces your ability to move your head to look around.
Burrows suggested pedestrians who walk and talk, or text, should put their phone call on hold or wait until the conversation is over to cross the street. And those listening to music should remove at least one earphone.
"There is no phone call, text message or music that is worth losing your life over," he said.
So, is it time for the province to outlaw such behaviour?
"I think society is in a sad state if it needs to pass a law to protect people from this," Burrows said, adding a little common sense should be all that's needed.
However, after standing at the intersection for a couple of hours yesterday and seeing pedestrian after pedestrian with a cellphone pressed to their ear, Burrows said such legislation may not be as silly as it sounds.
Vincent Tsang, who lives nearby, admitted he has occasionally been on the phone while crossing the street.
"But an incident like this will make me think twice before I do it again," he said.
Tsang, 38, doesn't believe legislation is the answer.
"Laws and legislation can only go so far," he said. "How can you really police and enforce something like that?"
Another area resident, Sean Wells, who is also admittedly guilty of walking and talking at times, agreed.
"I don't think you can dictate any new laws or regulations for it," the 34-year-old said, adding it comes down to personal responsibility.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

St. Patrick’s Day 5km Run/Walk, Sunday March 15, 2009, 9 a.m., Road closures

On Sunday March 15, 2009, the Achilles Track Club of Canada will be hosting the St. Patrick’s Day 5K Run/Walk.
Participants will assemble on Bremner Boulevard, east of Rees Street, at 9 a.m. At 10:15 a.m., the 5km run/walk will proceed along the following route:
Formation area:
- Bremner Boulevard, Rees Street to Lower Simcoe Street,
- Westbound on Bremner Boulevard,
- Northbound on Spadina Avenue, northbound curb lane only,
- Eastbound on Clarence Square,
- Eastbound on Wellington Street, two southside lanes,
- turnaround just west of Yonge Street,
- Westbound on Wellington Street, two southside lanes,
- Westbound on Clarence Square,
- Southbound on Spadina Avenue, northbound curb lane only,
- Eastbound on Bremner Boulevard
- dispersal area: Bremner Boulevard, Rees Street to Lower Simcoe Street.
Vehicles in the area may experience traffic delays, due to this event.
This event will proceed regardless of weather conditions.

St.Patrick's Day Parade, March 15th Toronto

Toronto's annual St. Patrick's Day Parade is set to take over several downtown streets tomorrow, so they will be closed to drivers.
The parade will form up near the University of Toronto campus.
Starting at 8 a.m.:
Harbord St. will be closed from Huron St. to St. George St.
St.George St. will be shut between College and Bloor Sts.
Devonshire Place will be closed between Hoskin Ave. and Bloor St.
Hoskin Ave. will be closed between St. George St. and Queen's Park Cres. W.
Those streets will reopen at 12:30 p.m.
The parade will head east on Bloor, turn south on Yonge St. to Queen St., then west to Nathan Phillips Square.
Police will close several streets at noon to divert traffic away from the parade:
Bay St. will be shut down between Queen and Dundas Sts.
Elizabeth St. will be closed between Dundas and Hagerman Sts.
Hagerman St. will close between Elizabeth and Bay Sts.
All streets are expected to reopen at 3 p.m.

Streetcar tragedy

Toronto Sun

An elderly woman has died after being hit by a TTC streetcar in East Chinatown yesterday.
Toronto Police say the 85-year-old pedestrian was walking across Gerrard St. E. at Degrassi St., a block east of Broadview Ave., just after 9 a.m. when she was struck by the westbound trolley.
A small section of Gerrard St. E. was closed for several hours as investigators gathered evidence in an effort to determine what happened.
"At this point in time, we do have some conflicting statements as to the exact cause and direction of travel," Sgt. Tim Burrows, of the Traffic Services Unit, said.
The senior was crossing at or near a crosswalk, but it appears the lights were not activated, he said.
The victim was whisked to St. Mike's hospital in critical condition and her family rushed to her bedside.
While her name was not immediately released, Burrows said she lives nearby.
Eight people have died in traffic fatalities in Toronto so far this year.
Five witnesses came forward to police following the accident. But it's unclear if they were on the streetcar or just passing by.
It's believed there may have been cars passing the streetcar at the time in the curb lane, which is illegal at a crosswalk.
Police would like to talk to those drivers, not to lay charges but to find out what they witnessed, Burrows said.
"(Their information) is going to be critical to our investigation," he said.
Investigators are also reviewing surveillance video seized from a camera mounted in the streetcar to see if it captured the incident.
The streetcar driver was left "shaken" by the accident and he will be offered counselling by the TTC, Burrows said.
Anyone with information should call 416-808-1900 or 416-222-TIPS.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Mom dies in teen's arms

Chris Doucette - Toronto Sun

A teenage girl narrowly escaped serious injury only to be left holding her dying mother in her arms after they were both struck by a truck while crossing a street in the northwest corner of the city early yesterday.
Toronto Police believe the mother, 58, and daughter, 14, were heading home to Scarborough shortly before 7 a.m. when they were hit by the roll-off bin truck just steps from a TTC bus stop on Steeles Ave. W. at Pine Valley Dr.
"It's absolutely tragic," Sgt. Tim Burrows said at the scene.
"For a 14-year-old girl to lose her parent is (hard) enough," he said. "But to actually witness and be holding her mother when she passes away in her arms is something nobody should have to go through."
The mother, who may have worked a night-shift nearby, was crossing with her daughter from the north to the south side of Steeles in the marked pedestrian crossing on the east side of Pine Valley, Burrows said.
They were hit by a southbound truck hauling a steel bin filled with waste as it made a left turn from Pine Valley to go east on Steeles.
"When they reach about the midpoint of the road, the pedestrians leave the crosswalk and start moving on a diagonal towards the TTC shelter," Burrows said. "It was at that point they were actually struck."
The mother suffered massive head injuries.
"She took the brunt of the collision," Burrows said.
The daughter suffered only minor injuries.
In a desperate attempt to keep her mom alive, the teen administered first aid -- with help from the trucker -- until paramedics arrived.
But the woman was pronounced dead at the scene.
"It's unimaginable what the daughter must be going through," Burrows said.
She and her mom likely didn't see the truck coming because they had their backs to it, he said.
And the trucker -- who drives for NRD BiProducts Ltd. out of Hillsburgh, near Orangeville -- may not have seen them because it was still dark.
The dead woman, whose name was not immediately released, has family in South America.
A man who identified himself as the teen's biological father rushed to the scene to be with the devastated young girl, Burrows said.
The truck driver was also "badly shaken," the officer said. No charges were laid.
Police are urging witnesses to call them at 416-808-1900.

Editor Note: The truck did not have any materials in the bin at the time of the collision.

Woman killed, teen injured by dump truck

Mar 11, 2009 10:58 AM
Robyn Doolittle Precious Yutangco Staff Reporters - Toronto Star

A woman was killed and her teenaged daughter treated for minor injuries after both were struck by a dump truck at a busy intersection in North York this morning.
Just before 7 a.m., the mother, 58, and daughter, 14, were crossing Pine Valley Dr. at Steeles Ave. W. when they started walking diagonally to reach a TTC bus stop a short distance from the intersection, said Sgt. Tim Burrows of Toronto police traffic services.
As they stepped away from the crosswalk, a southbound dump truck that had been turning left onto Steeles struck the two.
When emergency crews arrived, both the daughter and the driver were admistering CPR to the woman, who had no vital signs.
The daughter was treated at the scene for minor injuries.
"It's absolutely tragic. For a 14-year-old to lose their parent is enough but to witness it, to be holding their mother when she passes away," said Burrows.
It is believed the women worked a night-shift in the area and they were heading east to their home in Scarborough.
A visibly distraught man who identified himself as the girl's biological father, arrived on scene.
Both victims' names were withheld.
The mother has "no known relatives in the area," said Burrows. Her family is from South America.
So far, no witnesses have come forward.
A TTC bus was in the area at the time of the crash and the driver has been interviewed. Police are also in the process of interviewing the truck driver.
It is too early to tell whether charges will be laid, Burrows said.
"It was raining and dark at the time but I wouldn't say (weather) was a factor. It was more of a nuisance," Burrows said. Speed is also not a factor.
This is the city's seventh traffic fatality of the year.
Anyone who may have seen anything is asked to contact investigators at 416-808-1900.

Boy struck by car

Mar 12, 2009 05:07 PM
Jesse McLean Staff Reporter - Toronto Star
A 10-year-old boy is in hospital with serious injuries after being struck by a car in the Jane St. and Finch Ave. area.
The boy was walking on Firgrove Cres. around 3:40 p.m. when he was hit. He was thrown to the ground, suffering a gash to the head, police said.
"He was bleeding pretty badly, but it isn't life-threatening," said Const. Donald Brock.
The boy wasn't using a crosswalk at the time, police said.
He is recovering in the Hospital for the Sick Children.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Crash injuries three

Rob Lamberti - Toronto Sun

Alcohol was a factor in two separate crashes that left three men in critical condition Sunday morning, according to police.
Two men were severely injured in a 3:49 a.m. single vehicle crash on Hill Cr., in the Markham-Kingston Rds. area.
Sgt. Tim Burrows, of Toronto Police traffic unit, said the Pontiac car went out of control and mounted a curb before crashing into a utility pole.
A 23-year-old passenger was rushed to hospital and is listed in critical condition, Burrows said.
Investigators reported they were preparing to charge the driver with an impaired-related offences when he began complaining about his head hurting. He was taken to hospital and is now in critical condition, Burrows said.
In another crash on Browns Line at 12:12 a.m., a southbound Toyota crashed into the rear of a stopped TTC bus.
Burrows said the bus, which was stopped at a red light at Horner Ave., lurched forward because of the impact. Neither the driver or the lone passenger was injured, he said.
The 51-year-old Mississauga man driving the car, however, suffered severe injuries.
Burrows said the man’s injuries wouldn’t have been as severe if he was wearing a seatbelt. Speed and alcohol are thought to be factors in the collision, he said.
On Saturday, meanwhile, a 23-year-old man was killed when he lost control of his car on Allen Rd., at Transit Rd. In another incident, a man suffered severe injuries when the car he was riding in was caught in the middle of a chain-reaction of collisions on the Gardiner Expressway, near Jameson Ave.

Train kills man, dogs

Tamara Cherry - Toronto Sun

In a fateful effort to save his dogs, a man was killed yesterday during a morning walk along busy train tracks frequented by Summerhill residents.
A long whistle rang through the neighbourhood southwest of Yonge St. and St. Clair Ave. just after 8 a.m. -- a warning by a CP freight train operator that would prove fruitless.
The 64-year-old father and husband was out for a routine walk along the south side of the tracks that run between Shaftesbury Ave. and his Scrivener Square home when his two off-leash King Charles spaniels ran in front of an approaching westbound train.
His attempt to save the pets proved fatal for all three.
When police arrived the man and one of the dogs was dead. The second dog was in such distress that an officer chose to euthanize it at the scene, Toronto Police Insp. Joanna Beaven said.
"It's a tragedy," Beaven said. "I mean, the male was just out walking his dogs and he was going to save his pet and lost his life in doing so."
The incident acts as a grim reminder to stay away from the tracks, which are, for the most part, blocked off by fences on both the north and south side, Sgt. Tim Burrows said.
But residents said the land along the tracks is a common shortcut for walkers going to adjoining neighbourhoods, such as Moore Park and Rosedale, and efforts to patch up gaps in the fence are futile.
"It never, never lasts long," Bojan Vitko said of the chunks of chain-linked fence that have been pulled back by those who frequent the area. "It's so convenient between this neighbourhood and the other neighbourhoods."
Two such gaps in the north fence could be found, while plastic fencing used to replace a hole in the south side, near the man's home, had been ripped open. Further down the tracks on the south side, there was no fence separating the tracks from the residential neighbourhood and nearby playground.
"I'm just cutting through," said one woman, who passed from the north side of the tracks to the south side, before the man's body had even been cleared from the scene. "I do it all the time."
"It's a natural path. This is a completely natural crossing right here," said Vitko, an area resident of 30 years. "If there was a safe footpath, it would be used a lot."
"Most of the time you walk out there and you can see so far down either way that you think you're safe," said Tara Wells, who used to cross the tracks on her way to work. "They (trains) are so often. You can hear them all the time or you can even feel the vibrations."
"Easily," resident David Hartman said of access to the tracks. "People walk across all the time."
"I'm familiar with these trains and they only blow the whistle when there's somebody on the tracks," Hartman said. "I heard a long whistle this morning."
"Unfortunately this is a stark reminder why we don't want people near railway tracks, why it is against the law to be on the railway property lines and how dangerous it really is," Burrows said. "We're not talking about a child that made a poor decision, and in the protection of his animals, paid the price for that."

Man, dogs killed in train tragedy

Mar 10, 2009 04:30 AM
Susan Stock's little dog sounded the first warning.
She was at the door of her Shaftesbury Ave. home when he started barking loudly. She looked up and saw a small dog running on train tracks. "The next thing I see is a man frantically trying to get the dog off the track but his other dog also came (on) to the tracks," said Stock.
Seconds later, she saw a train approaching and heard its horn blow. "He jumped off the track and toward the fence, and the train went by. I lost sight of him," said Stock. She ran to the fence, screaming, "Are you okay, are you okay," but there was no response.
Because of the way the man was lying, she could only see his head, his green cap. "He wasn't moving. I prayed he was still alive."
Toronto police said the man and one dog died instantly. The other dog was so severely injured, it had to be put down.
The victim was Bob Campbell, 64, the Star has learned. He lived in a condominium in the affluent Rosedale neighbourhood.
He was walking along the south side of the Canadian Pacific freight tracks off Shaftesbury Ave., southeast of Yonge St. and St. Clair Ave., with his two Cavalier King Charles spaniels off leash, when the dogs ran into the path of a westbound freight train at around 8 a.m., police said.
The train stopped about 18 metres from the spot where the man and dogs were found.
"It was over in seconds," said Stock yesterday, shaking her head as tears welled up in her eyes.
Campbell's neighbours described him as a warm, friendly person.
"It's shocking. Everyone knew Bob," said a grey-haired man standing outside the condo who didn't want to give his name.
"He always stopped for a chat," he said, adding that Campbell took great care of his dogs.
"This is so sad," said a woman, who lives in the same building but did not want to be identified. "Bob was a great guy, loved his dogs."
She said Campbell was an original resident when the condo was completed about four years ago. "He was an active member of the (condo) board."
Stock said Campbell was walking with his dogs next to the railway, inside the fences that acts as barriers to the tracks.
"There are holes in the fence all along. Even if the fence is repaired, openings come up quickly," said Susan Wilson, who lives on Ottawa St., off Shaftesbury.
Wilson says it's common to see people, including students, crossing the tracks.
"Everyone does it. There are so many openings, people think it's an easy shortcut."
Metres from where Campbell's body was found, openings in both fences were easily spotted.
Toronto police Sgt. Tim Burrows said most fences have openings. "It would be difficult to block access everywhere. That's why there are always no trespassing signs."
Burrows said the rail route is busy, with trains crossing every 20 minutes or so.
The incident was preventable, said Mike LoVecchio, CP Rail spokesperson.
"The fence is not the issue, the issue is trespassing," he said.
"There is no need to trespass on the rail right-of-way and to do so is to take a terrible risk."
LoVecchio said he wasn't sure whether the fence is CP property but acknowledged that damage to the barriers is an ongoing problem.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

One dead, six hurt in series of crashes

Mar 07, 2009 01:01 PM
Thandiwe Vela Staff reportersAdrian Morrow
Toronto Star

Three separate car crashes overnight left one man dead and sent six others to hospital while shutting down part of the Gardiner Expressway and Allen Rd.
The Gardiner reopened shortly before 1 p.m. The westbound Gardiner was closed between Dunn Ave. and Parkside Drive.
Sometime before 5 a.m., a 23-year-old man was driving northbound on Allen Rd. when he lost control of his vehicle. He drove across the dividing barrier into the southbound lanes, said Sgt. Tim Burrows of Toronto police traffic services.
The car then went off the roadway onto the west side of Allen, over an embankment and landed on Transit Rd. It continued across Transit, rolling through a ditch, up a hill and finally came to rest in a City of Toronto Works yard at the northwest corner, Burrows said.
Emergency crews were called to Allen and Transit roads just before 5 a.m., Toronto EMS said. The man was pronounced dead on scene.
Investigators are still trying to determine exactly what caused the fatal collision, but police say the driver's speed likely played a part.
"We know that speed is a factor, just by the distance the vehicle travelled," Burrows said.
No other vehicles appeared to be involved in the crash.
Accident reconstruction officers are at the scene, leaving Allen closed in both directions between Sheppard Ave. W. and Highway 401. Police expect it will re-open soon.
Meanwhile, on the Gardiner Expressway, a minor collision around 3 a.m. at South Kingsway snarled traffic. As vehicles slowed down because of the collision, an empty coach bus rammed into the back of a car, causing it to rear-end a pick-up truck, which in turn rear-ended another car.
Toronto firefighters were forced to use the Jaws of Life to free one man who was riding in the back of the first car that was hit. He was taken to hospital with serious injuries.
The other two people in the car were also taken to hospital, along with three people in the other vehicles. None of their injuries are considered life-threatening.
Police are still investigating the collision to determine whether there was a mechanical failure on the bus, or if the driver didn't see the traffic slowing ahead to bypass the original collision.

Crashes on Allen & Gardiner Cause Traffic Mess


After being closed for most of Saturday morning and into the afternoon, the Gardiner and Allen Expressways have reopened to traffic.
The Gardiner was closed at about 4:30 a.m. after a crash between two cars, a bus and a pickup truck. It reopened in the early afternoon.
Occupants of all vehicles involved have been taken to hospital. Two are being treated for serious injuries.
Westbound traffic on the Gardiner was bumper-to-bumper in the lanes leaving the city's core, between Spadina and Jameson Avenues, for more than eight hours.
The eastbound lanes were also backed up well past the Humber River.
Another crash, on Allen Road, claimed a life this morning, forcing a major closure in both directions.
Police got the call at about 5 a.m. but say they don't know what time the crash actually happened.
A TTC driver noticed debris strewn across the southbound lanes of the Allen.
Toronto police Sgt. Tim Burrows says the driver was northbound before crossing the median into the southbound lanes and travelling up an embankment on the side of the expressway.
"There was a period of time where the vehicle was airborne," says Burrows.
Police haven't identified the driver yet but say he's a 23-year-old man who was driving a Volvo.
Police reopened the roadway just before 2:30 p.m.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Transit City full speed ahead

Planners refine details as first of 7 proposed light rail lines to break ground this fall

Tess Kalinowski TRANSPORTATION REPORTER - Toronto Star

They have talked about it. They have even advertised it on billboards.
The TTC's Transit City vision of breathing new life into Toronto's suburban avenues using Euro-style light rail is clear.
Now, with the first of seven proposed Transit City lines set to break ground, planners are down to the nuts and bolts of how the system will function. Big decisions are being made with almost unprecedented speed, thanks to a shorter environmental assessment process and the province's stated commitment to public transit.
Shovels go into the ground on Sheppard East in September. The Eglinton Crosstown line and Etobicoke-Finch West lines will follow next year, if Queen's Park delivers the anticipated funding in this month's provincial budget.
But there are potential pitfalls. Kennedy station "is the classic example" of mistakes the TTC is trying to avoid with Transit City, said Mitch Stambler, manager of service planning.
"The transfer between the subway and the Scarborough RT at Kennedy is just incredibly customer-unfriendly, and we are determined to never, ever replicate that kind of thing," he said. A Kennedy makeover is in the works.
Meantime, engineers and planners are poring over plans for Don Mills station, the likely junction for the Finch West and Sheppard East light rail lines and the Sheppard subway.
Originally the TTC had been considering whether to tunnel under Highway 404 to connect the Sheppard LRT with the subway at track level there, or to extend the subway another stop to accommodate commuters to the business park at Consumers Rd.
The subway extension is less likely now that regional transportation planning agency Metrolinx has asked the TTC for a continuous east-west route across the city's north end.
Several scenarios are being studied to create that path. But the most likely would see the Finch West line, originally expected to terminate at Finch station, travelling on the Don Mills LRT line to Don Mills station, where it could link to Sheppard East.
The idea of eliminating the need to take stairs, escalators or elevators to transfer between the subway and Sheppard LRT was fine. But it probably isn't doable if there are two LRT lines to contend with, so the TTC is considering its options, Stambler said.
"What if we brought in Sheppard and Etobicoke-Finch both at concourse level? What if we bring Sheppard East in at subway level and Finch West and Don Mills in at concourse level, so they're not exactly continuous but the transfer again is quite convenient?" said Stambler, outlining the options.
The TTC is also looking at connecting Eglinton Crosstown with the SRT. That has implications for the Scarborough RT, including whether the RT is converted to light rail along the existing grade-separated alignment.
The aging RT technology can't run at street level because of its electrified rail. But LRT, with overhead wires, could run on the RT's alignment.
"Nobody should think for a minute that going to light rail would be a loss of capacity or lower quality than the RT, because the modern LRT vehicles are going to be spectacular compared to anything the city's seen," Stambler said.
As the project moves forward, the list of extensions to the system continues to grow. The TTC is considering several options, including taking the Sheppard East line to the Toronto Zoo and connecting the 512 St. Clair streetcar right-of-way to the Jane Street LRT.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

250 km/h on 400 near Finch

Sunny Freeman/Alex Cooper - Toronto Star

A 26-year-old Toronto man was clocked roaring down Hwy. 400 at an unprecedented 250 kilometres an hour just after midnight.
The suspect was driving an Infiniti G35 at its top speed south on 400 near Finch when he was tracked with a laser around 12:30 a.m., Woodford said.
According to the manufacturer, that's the top-rated speed, 250, before the engine conks out. That's what it's limited to.
Antonio Talarico was charged with stunt driving under Section 172 of the province's Highway Traffic Act. His car was impounded and his license was suspended as a result of the charge.
Under Ontario's legislation, stunt-driving charges take effect if a vehicle is travelling 50 km/h or more over the speed limit.
Because there was no other vehicle involved, the driver was not charged with street racing, he added.
The posted speed limit on Hwy. 400 is 100 km/h. The driver was travelling more than double that speed.
The driver could face a fine of anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 if he's found guilty. He is scheduled to appear in court on April 8.
Last month, a driver whose car sped down the Don Valley Parkway at 231 km/h was charged with impaired and dangerous driving.
More than 10,000 people have been charged under the stunt-racing legislation since it took effect last year, nearly eight hundred in Toronto alone.
Provincially on average, 22 people are charged each day, almost one every hour.

From the editor
250 km/h is 69.44 meters per second or 3/4 of a football field every second!! On average it takes a person 1.5 seconds to identify and react to a potential hazzard. The driver would have travelled roughly one and a half football fields before he would of had time to even react. Then neaarly four football fields to stop. If something went wrong in front of that driver, i.e. unexpected lane change, cut-off, debris on road, within the first 200 meters, the driver wouldn't even begin to scuff off speed.