Plan to ‘end severe collisions’

York Regional Council has given the green light to a plan that has the “aspirational goal” of ending severe road collisions here.

“The Vision Zero Traveller Safety Plan reaffirms York Regional Council’s commitment to keep our roads safe and communities healthy,” says York Region Chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson.

“Developed with data, best practices, and public and partner input, this comprehensive plan enhances and identifies areas to further improve safety on our roads,” he says. “With every countermeasure we implement, we’ll be one step closer to reaching our aspirational goal of ending severe collisions on roads in York Region.”

Both total collisions and traffic volumes here rose by 13 per cent from 2015 to 2023, the region reports. In 2020, collisions fell to about 6,200 due to traffic volumes dropping sharply during pandemic-related closures. When restrictions eased in 2021 and traffic volumes increased, collisions increased from just under 7,000 to a projected 10,500 in 2023. Seventy-six per cent of severe collisions occur at intersections, followed by aggressive driving, vulnerable road users, and distracted and impaired driving

The plan recommends more than 100 countermeasures, including engineering and technology solutions, public engagement, education and heightened enforcement to reduce risk of collision. Specific measures include automated speed enforcement, intersection improvements, pedestrian and cycling measures, red light cameras, roundabouts, school zone speed reductions and speed feedback boards.

“Traveller safety is a shared responsibility. This plan’s development is a collaborative effort between York Region, the public, all nine local cities and towns, York Regional Police, school boards and other road safety partners,” says Tom Mrakas, Chair of Public Works – Transportation Services.

“We must continue working together to protect our most vulnerable road users including pedestrians, cyclists, seniors, children and motorcyclists. This is especially critical as these travellers are more likely to sustain severe injury or even death when involved in a collision.”

The Traveller Safety Plan is driven by international initiative Vision Zero, which was first implemented in Sweden in the 1990s and attracted widespread attention by cutting its traffic deaths by half within 20 years. Data will be analyzed yearly to identify trends and help inform decisions on where improvements are needed.

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