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School zone safety report considered at public works committee

Toronto’s public works and infrastructure committee has reviewed and amended a staff report on school zone safety which will be debated at next month’s council meeting.

The staff report by Transportation Services was prompted late last year after the deaths of two children who were hit by trucks near schools.

Violet Liang, 14, was killed at the start of the school year in September after being struck by a truck near C.W. Jefferys Collegiate. Five-year-old Kayleigh Callaghan-Belanger was killed by a city garbage truck as she walked home from school in Scarborough in March 2013.

In the staff report, Transportation Services analyzed school-zone-related collision data and concluded that school-aged pedestrian collisions were on the decline from a peak of 183 in 2003 to 47 in 2013.

But the report said “the increase in total traffic and pedestrian fatalities in 2013 demonstrates that opportunities for improvements still exist.”

A review of school-aged pedestrian collisions from 2008-2012 showed accidents were most prevalent at mid-block, when pedestrian crossed without a right of way while cars were turning and when pedestrians crossed at a crosswalk while cars were turning.

It also found that accidents often occurred in areas with a high density of schools and in clusters of a one-kilometre radius.

After an audit of nine so-called high collision clusters, Transportation Services recommended immediate action.

They included replacing damaged, faded or missing signs at Fairbank Middle School and St. Thomas Aquinas Collegiate; installing zebra signs at pedestrian crossovers and intersections at a cluster that included Blessed John XXIII C.S., Gateway P.S. and Grenoble Public School; and installing barriers to redirect pedestrians to designated crossing locations at a cluster, including Warden Jr. Public School, Samuel Hearne Senior Public School and Oakridge Junior Public School.

The audit also reviewed the two locations where the fatalities occurred but the results didn’t reveal any concerns that required immediate action.

School zone safety strategy by CityNewsToronto