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‘It’s going to be a tragedy’: Georgina resident concerned about road safety after car crashes on front lawn

Driver charged with careless driving under Highway Safety Act
Oct. 16, 2023
Laura Broadley

When a car crashed on Chris Grant’s front lawn in Keswick in mid-August, he wasn’t surprised. In fact, he had predicted it. But he isn’t a psychic.

“(The car) crossed three front lawns, went airborne in my neighbour’s culvert and crashed into my driveway,” Grant said, adding that his driveway was torn up and both of his vehicles were damaged as a result.

Grant and his neighbours on Old Homestead Road gathered surveillance video of the Aug. 9 crash and submitted it to police.

The driver of the car was charged with careless driving under the Highway Traffic Act and a ticket was issued more than two weeks after the collision because “the investigating officer initially believed there was insufficient evidence to proceed with any charges at the time,” York Regional Police Sgt. Clint Whitney said.

According to Grant, speeding on Old Homestead Road, west of Metro Road North, has been an issue since he moved there 12 years ago, and neighbourhood residents have wanted traffic-calming measures for years.

“All this complaining led to nothing,” Grant said. “There’s tons of drivers flying up and down my road.”

Although no one was seriously injured in the collision on his front lawn, Grant believes it’s only a matter of time before someone is badly hurt or killed because of speeding on Old Homestead Road.

“It’s gotten to the point where this is unsafe. Someone is going to get run over, and I’m not just saying it. It’s going to happen one day and it’s going to be a tragedy.”

When a traffic complaint by residents is made to the Town of Georgina, an assessment of the issue is made by town staff to determine whether it needs to be pursued. If a problem is identified, immediate traffic calming measures, such as the installation of Road Watch signs or radar speed board, police enforcement and the installation of flexible traffic bollards, are pursued.

If immediate traffic-calming measures aren’t effective in fixing the issue, the town’s policy outlines a second step where a boundary of the affected area is defined and, if required, a petition is created, and then it goes to council for approval.

Staff primarily rely on traffic engineering principles, including a reliance on speed and volume studies at proposed locations, to make recommendations, according to Tanya Thompson, Georgina’s communications manager.

The local improvement traffic-calming measures outlined in the policy include raised crosswalks, speed tables or humps, textured pavement and traffic circles for new developments.

Staff intend to overhaul the policy in 2024, Thompson said.

The difference between life and death could be 10 km/h.

If a driver is going the posted speed limit of 40 km/h down a street, and a distracted pedestrian steps out in front of the car, in most cases the person would recover. A car driven at 50 km/h turns the most likely result from “recoverable to significant.” But at 60 km/h, just 10 km/h more, it’s probably going to be a fatality, according to Brian Patterson, president and CEO of the Ontario Safety League, a traffic safety organization that provides information and safety-based programs.

The preliminary Ontario road safety annual report indicates 592 people were killed in 530 fatal collisions in 2022 with speed being a factor in 17.7 per cent of those incidents.

“I often remind people, it is not the Highway Traffic Act, it’s Newton’s Law that should be in your mind when you’re making these decisions.”