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Police launch pedestrian safety campaign after deadly start to 2018

Last Updated Jan 16, 2018 at 3:53 pm EST

Police on scene where a pedestrian was hit by a postal truck on Eglinton Avenue. CITYNEWS/Hugues Cormier

It’s just over two weeks into 2018 and there have already been seven traffic fatalities — five of them pedestrians — prompting Toronto police to launch a pedestrian safety campaign.

According to police, fatalities are up 250 per cent from last year.

“It’s alarming. Drivers, pedestrians, we all need to work together,” Toronto police Supt. Scott Baptist explained.

“It’s a very busy city and we need to have people talk about this so that we can try to do something and save lives.”

Over the next week, police and parking enforcement officers will be watching for pedestrian mistakes as part of the safety awareness campaign.

Some of those mistakes include not watching for traffic, not crossing with the signals and texting and walking.

“There are so many behaviours that we need to change and a big part of it is distraction,” Baptist said.

“We need people to do the most basic things to look out for themselves. We need them to take the earbuds out, we need the hoodies pulled down, we need people to look both ways.”

But police aren’t just pointing the finger at pedestrians. Drivers are getting a warning too.

“Motorist behaviour is a significant contributing factor. We need all motorists to slow down, make more room around their car, make eye contact, get their eyes up, put the phones down, drive sober,” Baptist stated.

Baptist said the conversation about road safety needs to start at home, not just with children, but with parents and grandparents.

“We need to talk about how we use our roads so that we can all be more safe,” he said.