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Higher rates of pedestrian deaths, injuries in poorer areas

By Kirsten McMahon, Managing Editor
 

Recent studies which show pedestrians in low-income areas face a higher risk of getting killed or injured in collisions is disheartening and further contributes to the cycle of poverty, says Rhino Legal Finance Inc. president and CEO Larry Herscu.

One study conducted by CBC Toronto found that nearly 50 per cent more of the collisions in which pedestrians were either killed or seriously injured happened in the city’s poorest neighbourhoods.

“The discrepancy is even wider when it comes to vulnerable road users — youth under 20 and seniors over 65,” the article states, citing another study from the Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids), York University and ICES, which suggests children in poorer areas of Ontario face a higher risk of getting hit by vehicles than those in wealthier areas.

Global News reports the study conducted by Sick Kids found that despite a focus of Canadian health policy on reducing socioeconomic disparities in health, the number of emergency department visits involving children who were hit by cars differs by income level and that children in lower-income areas are at greater risk of being hit by motor vehicles.

The study also revealed:

  • Teens aged 15 to 19 accounted for 51 per cent of emergency department visits due to pedestrian-motor vehicle collisions and pre-teens aged 10 to 14 accounted for 26 per cent of visits
  • 73 per cent of collisions occurred in cities, and 20 per cent happened in suburbs

Herscu tells us both studies seem to be consistent with other reports he’s read.

“The facts seem to line up and say pretty much the same thing— there are disproportionate rates of people dying or being injured in poor neighbourhoods,” he says. “Many of those areas were designed for traffic and not for pedestrians, with regards to speed limits, traffic lights and crosswalks.” Herscu says a big part of Rhino Legal’s business is offering financial support to those who have been hurt in an accident to help them pay bills while their lawyer fights for a fair settlement.

Low-income accident victims can be faced with a perpetual downward spiral that’s difficult to get out of, Herscu says.

“If your income is now being taken away because your injuries prevent you from working, it just compounds the effect,” he says. “Then you have no wherewithal to get the rehabilitation you need to recover and get back to work.

“This makes it very difficult to get your finances in order,” Herscu adds.

He says people who live in Toronto’s lower-income neighbourhoods are also more likely to be commuting via public transit. According to CBC’s research, more than half of the residents in one low-income area commute to work every day without a car.

“Without that auto insurance coverage, there may be a financial gap in the event of a pedestrian accident,” Herscu says, noting that if the driver

Auto infotainment systems a distraction for all drivers

By Kirsten McMahon, Managing Editor:


A recent study showing the adverse effects of automobile infotainment systems on older motorists is a good reminder for all drivers to keep their eyes and minds on the road, says Rhino Legal Finance Inc. president and CEO Larry Herscu.

The study, conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, examined age-related differences in the visual, cognitive and temporal demands associated with common tasks using the In-Vehicle Information Systems (IVIS) found in six different vehicles.

Participants included 128 licensed drivers — who had normal or corrected-to-normal vision and clean driving history — divided into two groups: those aged 21 to 36 years and older drivers between the ages of 55 to 75.

The results show that when it comes to specific tasks — calling or dialing, text messaging, programming music or navigation — older drivers experienced higher levels of cognitive and visual demand, compared to younger drivers, for both IVIS tasks and baseline tasks.

Hescu tells us that many vehicles on the market today include touchscreen or voice-command systems that put drivers in a position to be distracted.

“I would say these technologies make it much harder to do just about everything, and it forces you to take your concentration away from the road,” he says. “While these consoles are quite sophisticated and can do many things, even the smallest distraction has the potential to cause a life-altering accident.”

Herscu says a big part of Rhino Legal’s business is offering financial support to those who have been hurt in an accident to help them pay the bills while their lawyer fights for a fair settlement.

While distracted driving laws vary by province, most prohibit programming a GPS device, except by voice commands. However, adjusting temperature controls or selecting music is no longer as simple as pushing a button or turning a dial.

“I would say that all drivers should be aware of the distractions that these technologies bring. Those in-car tasks that fall outside of the law — like adjusting the radio or fiddling with temperature controls — should be done at a red light or when you are safely pulled over.”