Comment 94203

By kevlahan (registered) | Posted November 04, 2013 at 12:01:58

I think what the police (and the legal department) might actually be saying is that drivers are unlikely to be convicted for hitting a pedestrian at an uncontrolled intersection. Which is true.

However, this is not actually much different from the situation at a crosswalk at a controlled intersection, such as at a traffic light.

As I've pointed out before, even if a motorist hits and kills a pedestrian crossing legally at a crosswalk at a traffic light, the motorist is highly unlikely to get anything more than a $500 fine in Ontario.

For some reason, the courts demand a very high level of proof for criminal negligence causing death in the case of motor vehicles, which is difficult to meet when the only witness (apart from the driver) is often dead. This is typical across North America, as discussed in the book Carjacked, where the penalties for killing someone with a vehicle are usually just moderate fines even when the driver is at fault. The assumption seems to be that these are inevitable "accidents" that could happen to anyone.

The only exceptions are when it is clear the driver deliberately tried to run down the pedestrian, or when drugs or alcohol is involved (which leads to special penalties).

However, this actually shows that the "drivers don't have to stop" argument is pretty weak as there are not severe penalties imposed on drivers not stopping even at crosswalks at controlled intersections. And it is inconsistent with the HTA and the Ministry interpretation. I have never seen an actual reference to the HTA or regulations or any other law that justifies this interpretation.

If someone from the City or Police could point to the legislation that is supposed to justify this interpretation, I would be very grateful!

The key point is that responsible drivers will obey signs and pavement markings, and pedestrians always need to be careful of inattentive drivers. Reminding drivers to yield to crossing pedestrians can only improve conditions for pedestrians, and help drivers know when they should be stopping.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2013-11-04 12:06:37

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