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Can Toronto’s mayoral candidates improve road safety?

Can Toronto’s mayoral candidates improve road safety?

“Too many people are dying on our streets,” said former Chief City Planner and current mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat as she unveiled her ambitious road safety plan this September. The statement, though inflammatory, is one with which most Toronto personal injury lawyers would agree: according to the Toronto Star, 26 pedestrians and four cyclists have already been killed in the city in 2018.

This year’s mayoral race, which pits Keesmaat against incumbent John Tory, has been defined by a diverse slate of issues, including affordable housing, transit investment, and gun violence. Road safety has also been a persistent talking point: as the city grows, proactive measures must be taken to reduce death and serious injuries, particularly among vulnerable road users.

Mayor Tory has pledged to preserve the city’s existing Vision Zero strategy, for which council recently approved an additional $22-million in funding, bringing total funding to $105-million over five years. But Keesmaat and various road safety advocates have accused Tory of inaction and political cowardice.

“He keeps failing to reduce death and injury on Toronto’s streets. And when he’s called on it he gets into his avuncular mode, reassuring voters that something will be done to make it all better before long,” Graham Larkin, executive director for Vision Zero Canada, told the CBC. “But too often these are timid and pointless measures, like posting Slow Down for Kids signs.”

Keesmaat’s road safety strategy includes transforming 100 of Toronto’s most dangerous intersections, redesigning streets and sidewalks near schools, adopting Vision Zero standards when rebuilding infrastructure, and reducing speed limits to 30 kilometres per hour on residential streets.

“These are big moves, focusing on essential, failsafe measures like traffic calming and intersection design,” said Larkin. “This would require serious investment of time and money in the short term, but there would be savings of money as well as lives in the future.”

For Toronto personal injury lawyers who work with car accident victims on a daily basis, road safety is a critical election issue. Infrastructure investment and reduced speed limits aren’t sexy proposals, but their efficacy in reducing road violence is proven and well worth their political risks.

If you or a member of your family has been injured in a motor vehicle collision, contact a car accident lawyer at Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to learn how we can help. Our experienced team of Toronto personal injury lawyers can assess the viability of your claim and provide guidance and advice as you pursue compensation.

 

Image credit: The City of Toronto/Flickr

 

CDC releases guideline for handling childhood concussion

CDC releases guideline for handling childhood concussion

The United States’ Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released the ‘first broad evidence-based recommendations for diagnosing and treating children’s concussions,’ according to the Associated Press. The release comes just months after Rowan’s Law, an initiative heralded by some brain injury lawyers as a blueprint for other Canadian provinces, came into effect in Ontario.

The CDC guideline’s broad focus sets it apart from previous efforts in this area. Rowan’s Law and directives from the American Academy of Neurology and the American Academy of Pediatrics concentrate on sports injuries; the CDC publication also addresses slip-and-fall injuries and injuries from motor vehicle accidents.

Of course, sports remain a focus. As CDC brain injury specialist Matthew Breiding, one of the guideline’s co-authors, told the Associated Press: “Some children and teens think concussions aren’t serious or worry that if they report a concussion they will lose their position on the team or look weak. Remind them that it’s better to miss one game than the whole season.”

The guideline is based on a comprehensive evaluation of 25 years of scientific research and includes only procedures with the strongest evidence of success. For instance, the CDC reminds parents not to rely on X-rays or CT scans to diagnose concussions and warns that blood tests aren’t reliable, either. When a concussion is diagnosed, it recommends three days of rest from physical and mental activity (school; sports) and assures parents that symptoms will fade within three months in most cases.

As the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) notes in the abstract for the guideline, “mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), or concussion, in children is a rapidly growing public health concern because epidemiologic data indicate a marked increase in the number of emergency department visits for mTBI over the past decade.” Indeed, some estimates suggest as many as 1-million American children experience concussions each year. In Canada, concussions and possible concussions account for almost 65 per cent of all sports-related head injuries among children and youth. Childhood concussions are a serious issue across North America, and brain injury lawyers are encouraged to see lawmakers and governmental bodies invest in education and awareness.

If you or a member of your family has suffered a brain injury of any severity – from a concussion to a TBI – don’t hesitate to contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to learn how we can help. Our experienced team of brain injury lawyers can assess the viability of your claim and provide guidance and advice as you seek compensation.

 

Large vehicles make our roads less safe

Large vehicles make our roads less safe

Ontario’s highways are filled with large vehicles, from hulking pick-ups to sleek, family-friendly SUVs. Consumers are attracted to these vehicles because they’re tough – they excel in Canadian winters and keep families safe.

But what about families in other vehicles? What about the occupants of thousands of smaller cars that share the road with bulky Dodge Rams and GMC Yukons? As Ontario car accident lawyers have come to understand, large vehicles make Ontario’s road less safe, even as they protect their occupants.

In a 2015 article for the National Post, columnist Tristan Hopper cited several studies that confirmed the danger large vehicles pose to other drivers. According to researchers at the University of Buffalo, for example, in collisions between SUVs and smaller vehicles, the driver of the smaller vehicle is four times more likely to be killed than the driver of the SUV.

A team of Montreal scientists scoured data on millions of Canadian crashes and found that SUV drivers were 224 per cent more likely to cause a fatal accident than drivers of smaller vehicles.

And at the University of California, San Diego, researchers estimate that for every life saved by driving a large vehicle, 4.3 pedestrians, motorcyclists, and car drivers are killed.

Large vehicles are safer for a number of reasons: their height means occupants are elevated above collisions; their stiff frames make them less likely to succumb to external pressure; and perhaps most importantly, they are much heavier than station wagons and sedans.

However, these factors are also what makes large vehicles so dangerous to other drivers. According to the same National Post article: “for every 450 kilograms added to the weight of a car (roughly the difference between a Toyota Prius and a Ford Taurus), a vehicle becomes 40 per cent more likely to turn an otherwise survivable crash into a fatal collision.”

Ontario car accident lawyers don’t believe that SUVs and pick-ups should be banned from the province’s roads, of course. Large vehicles are critical tools on work sites and ideal for accommodating large families. But as Ontario’s population grows and our streets become more crowded, large vehicle operators must be aware of the danger they pose and take steps to ensure the safety of those around them.

If you or a member of your family has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Layers today to set-up a free, no-obligation consultation. Our team of experienced Ontario car accident lawyers can assess the viability of your claim and help you access compensation for your injuries.

 

B.C. auto insurer proposes premium changes

B.C. auto insurer proposes premium changes

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), Canada’s only for-profit public auto insurer, proposed changes to the way it structures premiums last month, provoking mixed reactions from industry experts and auto insurance dispute lawyers across the country.

The new model, if approved by the B.C. Utilities Commission, will reward safe drivers with lower premiums while asking high-risk drivers and drivers with fewer than 15 years of experience to pay more.

“The model ICBC uses to determine these premiums is more than 30 years old and it’s increasingly failed to ensure that drivers are held accountable for their driving habits and risk levels through their insurance rates,” said B.C. Attorney General David Eby, the minister responsible for the ICBC, at a news conference in August.

“A driver with no crashes could be paying the same premiums as a driver with three at-fault crashes in a year,” he added.

The province’s NDP government believes two-thirds of B.C. drivers will enjoy reduced premiums under the new plan, while approximately 17 per cent would see immediate rate increases of up to $100.

“I think it’s incredibly responsible for ICBC to be taking these measures,” one Vancouver tort lawyer told The Star Vancouver. “They’re trying to reward good drivers more and punish bad drivers more as well.”

“The best way we can incentivize better behaviour on our roads is by rewarding good drivers and by pricing high risk drivers appropriately to give them that financial motivation to pay more attention, to make sure they aren’t doing things like distracted driving,” Aaron Sutherland, vice president of the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s (IBC) Pacific region, told Canadian Underwriter. “My general thought is that this is long overdue.”

Under the new system, drivers without an at-fault accident will experience an annual premium reduction every year for up to 40 years. Drivers will also be rewarded for traveling less than 5,000 kilometres per year.

Criticism

Despite support from auto insurance dispute lawyers, critics believe the ICBC’s proposed changes are unlikely to make premiums more affordable in the long term. Today, only Ontarians pay more for auto insurance than British Columbians; if the ICBC continues to hemorrhage money – it reported a $1.3-billion loss last year – those two provinces’ positions may be reversed.

Contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers

If you have been injured in a car accident in Ontario, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced auto insurance dispute lawyers.

 

Image credit: Michael Scheltgen/Flickr

 

 

Extreme weather raises risk of traffic accidents

Extreme weather raises risk of traffic accidents

Climate change affects communities around the world in different ways. In Canada, concern is growing among personal injury lawyers that an increase in extreme weather events will cause a spike in traffic accidents.

In Toronto, extreme weather events have become common. An unexpectedly powerful August 12 rainstorm caused damaging floods in the downtown core and, less than ten days later, bulletins warned of a repeat event that was ultimately less significant. A CBC report on the August 12 storm illustrates just how mundane these events have become.

“Basements were again drenched,” it read. “Power went out. Beaches were covered in super-gross trash from sewer overflows. Some drivers, bizarrely, insisted they could successfully drive through deep water, only to watch their cars float away.”

Just like our municipal governments, Canadian drivers are unsure how to prepare for extreme weather events. And like our governments, our lack of preparation can have dangerous consequences.

Driving in Extreme Weather

Personal injury lawyers understand that the most effective way to avoid accidents caused by bad weather is, simply, to stay home. However, storms like the ones that affected Toronto last month often develop quickly, leaving drivers no choice but to navigate through them.

If you get stuck in a severe storm, your first action should be to flick on your hazard lights.

“Putting on your hazard warns other drivers you’re reducing speed and also makes you more visible,” Tim Danter, head driving instructor at Canada’s Worst Driver, told Driving.ca. “Psychologically, we’re wired to follow the car ahead, which means pulling off the highway, especially if it’s a narrow shoulder, can be dangerous.”

Next, gradually reduce your speed; excessive speed is a major risk factor in bad weather, but so are unexpected maneuvers like slamming the brakes or veering to the side of the road.

“You can hydroplane at 40 km/hr,” Danter said. “You might not even be aware that you’ve lost that essential contact between the road and your tires until you try to steer, or hit the brakes.”

If the weather is too severe for you to safely continue driving, pulling onto the shoulder is an option. But be cautious and patient – wait until you have the space and room to ease off the road.

Most importantly, drivers should be aware that an extreme weather event is possible. When you expect the unexpected, it’s hard to be taken by surprise.

If you or a member of your family has been injured in a traffic accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer. Our team will can provide support and guidance as you navigate the recovery process.

Too many Canadians drive while stoned

Too many Canadians drive while stoned

If you were to ask any road safety expert, law enforcement officer, or car accident lawyer how marijuana effects driving ability, you’d get the same answer: it increases risk of collision and puts fellow road users at risk.

Many Canadian cannabis users, unfortunately, appear to disagree. According to Statistics Canada’s most recent national cannabis survey, one in seven active marijuana users has driven within two hours of smoking in the previous three months. Additionally, five per cent of respondents said they’d been a passenger in a vehicle driven by someone who had consumed marijuana within two hours or driving.

Why do people engage in these risky behaviours? The Globe and Mail’s Darren Calabrese recently spoke with patrons of Halifax’s High Life Social Club to find out. Several interviewees admitted to driving while stoned or knowing someone who drives while stoned. One person said her friend passed her driving test while high; another suggested that marijuana helped them relax and focus on the road. Several insisted they would never drive while drunk.

“We used to say the same thing about drinking and driving,” Robert Mann, a researcher at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, told Calabrese. “’I can have a few drinks and it relaxes me.’ ‘I can have one for the road.’ The clear message is that using cannabis increases your risk of an accident.”

That message is supported by a large and growing body of scientific evidence. A French study revealed that drivers with marijuana in their system were twice as likely to be responsible for a fatal accident than a sober driver. Norwegian researchers found that driving while under the influence of cannabis increases crash risk by 30 per cent.

With the increased risk of collision due to marijuana intoxication now an established fact, every police officer and car accident lawyer in Canada must confront the possibility that road safety will suffer when recreational cannabis is legalized this October. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale remains confident that it will not.

“The problem exists right now,” he told reporters in response to StatsCan’s latest survey, according to the CBC. “Driving under the influence of drugs has been an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada since 1925. The approaches that we have had over the years, of focusing on complete prohibition, have obviously not succeeded.”

About 16 per cent of Canadians aged 15 and up reported using marijuana in the StatsCan report, equivalent to roughly 4.6-million people. The overwhelming majority (82 per cent) said they don’t plan to increase their consumption following legalization.

If you or a member of your family have been injured in a traffic accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer. Our team can assess the viability of your claim and provide access to resources that will aid your recovery.

Image credit: MSVG/Flickr

Neinstein sponsors adaptive climbing events

Neinstein sponsors adaptive climbing events

September is Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month in Canada. In recognition of this important initiative, Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers is co-sponsoring Therapeutic Adaptive Climbing, a two-event program organized by the Canadian Adaptive Climbing Society (CACS) and hosted by True North Climbing in Toronto.

Adaptive climbing is an opportunity for individuals living with spinal cord injury and other barriers to participate in a fun and engaging sport with numerous physical, cognitive, social, and emotional benefits. Neinstein is supporting two Therapeutic Adaptive Climbing ‘Try-it’ sessions: on September 28 from 10 AM until 1 PM, and on October 3 from 1 PM until 4 PM.

We hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suicide is more common in brain injury victims, study finds

Suicide is more common in brain injury victims, study finds

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are simultaneously straightforward and complex; when we hear someone has suffered a brain injury, we immediately recognize that something serious has occurred, but rarely do we understand exactly how the person’s life will change. Some brain injuries cause massive, long-term physical effects, like paraplegia. In other cases, the impacts may be much subtler; brain injuries can affect memory, communication, cognitive ability, and mental health. The job of a brain injury lawyer is to assess how their client’s life has changed and pursue compensation that reasonably reflects that.

The Danish Research Institute of Suicide Prevention recently published a comprehensive study that emphasizes the impact of TBI on mental health. By examining the medical records of seven million people over more than three decades, lead author Dr. Trine Madsen and her team found that people with traumatic brain injuries were twice as likely to attempt suicide. Individuals with no such injury faced a suicide risk of one in 200 over a 25-year period; those with a TBI had a risk of one in 100.

“Traumatic brain injury is a major public health problem that has many serious consequences, including suicide,” Dr. Madsen wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “The high prevalence of traumatic brain injury globally emphasizes the importance of preventing it in order to ameliorate its sequelae, such as increased suicide risk, which can be prevented resulting in saved lives.”

From a local perspective, improving road safety would almost certainly reduce the occurrence of brain injuries in Ontario. Each of the province’s two largest cities are experiencing periods of above-average traffic accidents and fatalities.

“Falls or road traffic accidents account for the largest share of brain injuries,” Madsen wrote. “Helmet use has a protective effect, especially falls related to bicycling and falls that occur at work.”

After a brain injury has occurred, a brain injury lawyer can help the victim initiate his or her recovery. By connecting the victim with therapists and leading medical and rehabilitative care, a personal injury lawyer can help their client avoid the common pitfalls that sometimes lead to depression.

“We have known for a long time that TBI may be a strong risk factor for suicidality,” Professor Huw Williams of the University of Exeter told The Telegraph for an article on the Danish study. “With TBI making people poor at remembering and planning, and being stuck in lives of chaos and no good prospects – work and family wise. TBI also makes people impulsive and often leads to depression and anxiety. So the breeding ground in the mind for self-harm.”

If you or a member of your family has suffered a traumatic brain injury, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced brain injury lawyer. Our team can assess the viability of your claim and provide guidance on the path to recovery.

Ottawa traffic fatalities hit seven-year high

Ottawa traffic fatalities hit seven-year high

Ontario car accident lawyers have been so preoccupied with vulnerable road user deaths in Toronto that another major road safety story has flown under the radar: traffic fatalities in Ottawa increased 23 per cent in 2017 to reach a seven-year high.

The nation’s capital reported 32 traffic-related deaths last year, up from 26 in 2016 and the most since 38 people died in 2010. Twenty-four of the 32 deaths were drivers or passengers in automobiles, five were pedestrians, and three were motorcyclists. The city recorded no cycling fatalities in 2017.

The Ottawa Police Service has not identified a definitive cause for the increase but believe distracted driving and an influx of new vehicles were contributors. They have stated that road safety is a priority.

“Every few years, when we have a public survey, road safety is always one of the top concerns from the public, so we want to make sure that we’re participating and addressing those concerns as best we can through enforcement, through collaborating with our safety partners and just improve the safety on the roads in Ottawa,” Staff Sgt. Frank D’Aoust told Global News.

The city has embarked on a number of road safety initiatives, including increased enforcement of existing impaired and distracted driving rules, identifying problematic intersections, and working with the engineering unit to build solutions. D’Aoust also told Global that motorists must accept responsibility.

“Drivers have to start paying attention to what they’re doing,” he said. “It’s going to take some enforcement… it’s going to take time for people to just get used to not having their phone on their lap … not having to communicate during that short time they’re commuting.”

D’Aoust also offered some common-sense advice with which Ontario car accident lawyers are sure to agree: put the phone away; watch for pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable road users; never speed or drive impaired; and use extra caution during rush hour.

Ottawa’s latest traffic fatality statistics show that road safety is a province-wide issue, not something unique to Toronto. As our cities grow and become more densely populated, law enforcement and city planners must find new ways to protect residents.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a serious traffic accident, contact the Ontario car accident lawyers at Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. Our team is proud to offer representation to seriously injured accident victims across Ontario, from Toronto to Ottawa.

 

Image credit: Wladyslaw/Wikimedia Commons

Impaired boating on the rise in some regions of Ontario

Impaired boating on the rise in some regions of Ontario

We’ve officially reached peak cottage season in Ontario, the time of year when cities empty and rural hubs teem with activity. The dog days of summer are also a busy time on the province’s abundant waterways, which makes safe boating practices more important than ever. Unfortunately, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have noticed an increase in unsafe habits this year, including impaired boating, which every boating accident lawyer recognizes as a cardinal sin.

In Chatham-Kent, the OPP has received more complaints about intoxicated boating than usual, according to a report from CBC Windsor. The provincial police force hasn’t pinpointed a reason for the increase, but they are committed to stepping up enforcement.

“We haven’t really seen this type of behaviour in the past,” Const. Jay Denorer told the CBC. “So what’s happening now is we’re starting to notice it.”

Moving forward, the OPP has pledged to include alcohol checks as part of their regular safety inspections. Locals hope the larger police presence will result in a tangible reduction in impaired boating.

“There is unfortunately too much drinking and boating, and it does cause accidents. It causes fatalities,” Leamington boater Dorit Jirash told the CBC. “There’s a lot you need to know in order to be a successful boater, and drinking has no place on a boat whatsoever.”

Indeed, as any boating accident lawyer in Ontario can tell you, drinking is a factor in approximately 65 per cent of all fatal boating accidents across Canada. As such, boating while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a criminal offence; in Ontario, individuals who drink and boat are subject to the same punishment as those who drink and drive.

The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for boaters is 80 milligrams. Additionally, it is illegal for most boaters to consume alcohol while on board their vessel. Legal alcohol consumption is only permitted on anchored or docked boats with a permanent toilet and permanent cooking and sleeping facilities. Drinking on all smaller boats, including those without motors, is illegal.

If you or a member of your family has been injured in a boating accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced boating accident lawyer today. Our team can assess the validity of your claim, provide guidance during the legal process, and offer access to medical service providers to mitigate your recovery.

 

Image credit: Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons

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