Last year proved to be a deadly one on city streets with the highest number of traffic fatalities in recent memory, despite noticeably reduced traffic and far fewer crashes.
Barrie police report 10 people were killed in crashes in the city in 2020. That’s up significantly from the four fatalities in 2019. And yet the number of crashes dropped by 27 per cent in 2020.
There were also 234 non-fatal injuries in 2020 of the total 783 motor vehicle collisions reported.
In 2019, there were 331 non-fatal injuries in addition to the four deaths of the 1,079 collisions that year.
“We’re trying to identify if there are patterns to certain situations that led up to the fatalities,” said Barrie police Sgt. Christopher Allport, who heads up the traffic unit. “We weren’t able to really find any consistencies.
“We’re hopeful that’s not going to continue," he added. "However, this year and next year we’ll be able to determine if that was just a one-year jump and then it will come back down to where we normally sit, two to four in a year.”
While two fatalities occurred in the same vicinity, circumstances are different for each crash and there are no specific common factors in the deaths, Allport said.
Of the 10 fatalities in 2020, five were single-vehicle collisions and of those, two were motorcycles.
Among those who died, three were pedestrians, two were passengers, and five were drivers.
Police report that collisions were down again during the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period the previous year.
Although two people have already died on city streets, one crash involved a pedestrian and the other was a single motor vehicle collision. Both are still under investigation.
Meanwhile, police have upped the ante with a dramatic increase in traffic enforcement in an attempt to reduce speeding, Allport said.
There has also been an initiative to work with city councillors and residents to identify areas of concern and where speeding tends to occur. Allport says that allows for a more directed approach to enforcement.
“Instead of just having the random patrol-type situation, we’re trying to focus in on where the trouble areas are as well as intersections that have collisions associated to them,” he said. “So we’re trying to use data to drive where we’re deploying our personnel to more or less reduce harm in the city.”
Police, the sergeant added, would endorse a reduction in the speed limit in Barrie, which had earlier been floated before city council.
In addition to RIDE enforcement and safety awareness, Barrie police have used enhanced technology and the Const. Scarecrow officer cutout to try to make local streets safer. The replica of an officer holding a radar gun is designed to slow people down and can be replaced by a real officer.
As part of traffic enforcement, city police have also identified noise complaints as an issue, often involving vehicles equipped with mufflers modified to give the perception of speeding. Part of that initiative involves educating the community to discern real speeding from just noisy cars on the streets.
Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com