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Pedestrian safety blitz drives home simple message: see and be seen

A road safety campaign launched yesterday aims to curb the rise of pedestrian collisions that mostly occur at York Region’s 2,000 signalized intersections.

A road safety campaign launched yesterday aims to curb the rise of pedestrian collisions that mostly occur at York Region’s 2,000 signalized intersections.

The message is clear: see and be seen.

As pedestrians hustled across the busy intersection at Yonge and Wellington streets in Aurora, the region’s community safety partners handed out reflective wristbands to passersby and pointed out the bright, on-street decals that carry simple safety messages: make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street, and only cross the street when the walk signal is displayed, for instance.

The eye-catching sidewalk decals are designed to attract attention from those walking with their heads down.

This year marks the second in a fall campaign to raise awareness among pedestrians, cyclists and drivers about what each can do to safely get to where they need to go. It is a partnership between York Regional Police, York Region and its public health branch, and Ontario’s Transportation Ministry.

“November is the month that we see an increase in collisions and we think it has to do with the time change, fatigue, and the darkness coming sooner,” said York Regional Police Sgt. Karen Hodge of the Road Safety Bureau. “We want drivers and pedestrians to get the message and put their phones down and pay attention when they’re on the road.”

There were 508 pedestrian collisions on York Region’s 4,200-lane kilometres of roads from 2014 to 2016, according to statistics. Of those, about 95 per cent resulted in injuries or fatalities.

“Particularly where there’s high pedestrian movement, we want to get the message out that there’s things you can do to ensure your safety,” York Region director of roads and traffic operations Joseph Petrungaro said.

Ontario’s Transportation Ministry on Sept. 1, 2018 toughened up penalties for drivers who endanger pedestrians. Failing to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks, school crossings, and crossovers now carries a maximum of $1,000 fine and four demerit points, up from $500 and three demerit points. Also, cyclists are required by law to have a front white light and either a rear red reflector or rear red light on their bicycles. The fine for riding without lights was recently increased to $110, up from $20.

Here are some safety tips, courtesy of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation:


  • Cross only at marked crosswalks or traffic lights. Don't cross in the middle of the block or between parked cars.
  • Make sure drivers see you before you cross. If the driver is stopped, make eye contact before you step into the road.
  • Wear bright or light-coloured clothing or reflective strips, especially at dusk or when it's dark.

At a traffic light:

  • Cross when traffic has come to a complete stop.
  • Begin to cross at the start of the green light or “Walk” signal, where provided.
  • Do not start to cross if you see a flashing “Do Not Walk” symbol or the light turns yellow. If you already started to cross, complete your crossing in safety.
  • Never cross on a red light.
  • Watch for traffic turning at intersections or turning into and leaving driveways.


  • Always look for pedestrians, especially when turning.
  • Watch for children. Drive slowly and cautiously through school zones, residential areas, or any other area where children could be walking or playing.
  • Watch out for Community Safety Zone signs that indicate areas where public safety is a special concern, including the possibility of encountering pedestrians.
  • Be patient, especially with seniors or pedestrians with disabilities who need more time to cross the road.
  • Drive carefully near bus and streetcar stops with islands or zones for passengers getting on and off. Pass them at reasonable speeds, and always be ready in case pedestrians make sudden or unexpected moves.


Show your children how to cross a road safely. Teach them to:

  • Stay to the side of the road, walking as far away from traffic as they safely can.
  • Stop at the edge of the sidewalk, and look both ways before crossing the road.
  • Take extra care on roadways that have no curbs.
  • Watch out for blind corners (for example, a car coming out of an alley may not see a child pedestrian about to cross).


Kim Champion

About the Author: Kim Champion

Kim Champion is a veteran journalist and editor who covers Newmarket and issues that impact York Region.
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