The City of Toronto in partnership with Friends and Families for Safe Streets launched its Art of Distraction public awareness campaign. The campaign advances the education component of Toronto’s Vision Zero Road Safety Plan and is based on tragic stories of those who have been victims or have lost loved ones on city streets. The campaign brings attention to road safety to influence safer, less distracted behaviour while on the road.
“Art of Distraction features powerful imagery and tragic stories of grief and loss on our streets,” said Mayor John Tory. “Fatalities and injuries on our roads are preventable and it takes all of us, especially drivers, to make our streets safer.”
The awareness campaign is featured across multiple platforms and media until mid-December. Statistics show there is a spike in collisions around the time of year when clocks are turned back and daylight hours are shorter. In addition to traditional campaign elements, including standard transit shelter posters, radio, television and social media, members of the public are encouraged to visit five unique Art of Distraction installations at the following transit shelter locations:
• Victoria Park Avenue & Eglinton Square – southeast corner
• King Street West & Spadina Avenue – southwest corner
• Blue Jays Way & Front Street West – southwest corner
• Queen Street West & Augusta Avenue – southwest corner
• College Street & McCaul Street – southwest corner
The installations at these locations display items found in the aftermath of collisions between distracted drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. These artifacts are accompanied by cards that identify the item and tell stories of tragedy, loss and grief. Additional ads in the campaign feature other items representing more stories of loss on Toronto roads.
“Friends and Families for Safe Streets is partaking in the Art of Distraction in the hope that this public awareness campaign will have a powerful impact, resulting in better driving behaviours and fewer Torontonians living out our stories of hurt and loss,” said Kasia Briegmann-Samson, co-founder of Friends and Families for Safe Streets. “As a group comprising road violence survivors and the bereaved, we hope you’ll never have your loved ones’ backpack, handbag, or wedding band returned to you by police delivering devastating news, just as many of our members have experienced.”
Members of the public are encouraged to learn more about the tragic stories that are featured in the Art of Distraction campaign by visiting the City’s updated Vision Zero web page which includes a new data mapping tool: toronto.ca/VisionZeroTO.
“By demonstrating the deadly and tragic consequences of lack of attention on our roads – as the Art of Distraction campaign does in a very moving and personal way, we are taking a key step forward in changing our attitudes, behaviours and culture about road safety in Toronto,” said Barbara Gray, General Manager of Transportation Services. “Public education and awareness is critical to the success of Toronto’s Vision Zero Road Safety Plan.”
In the last five years in Toronto, 190 pedestrians were killed in collisions involving people driving motor vehicles. Another 656 were seriously injured. In addition, 16 cyclists were killed and another 234 were seriously injured during the same time period (2013 to 2017). The Vision Zero Road Safety Plan is a long-term program focused on eliminating fatalities and reducing serious injuries, with an emphasis on pedestrian, school children, older adult, cyclist and motorcyclist safety and reducing aggressive and distracted driving. The city’s total five-year Vision Zero investment is $109 million.
Friends and Families for Safe Streets is working to end traffic violence in Toronto by changing laws, enforcement, street design, public attitudes and traffic culture to make the city’s vibrant streets safer and more equitable for all road users while supporting those who are survivors. To learn more, visit their website at cycleto.ca/friends-and-families-safe-streets or follow them on Facebook at facebook.com/ffsafestreets or on Twitter at twitter.com/FFSafeStreets. Friends and Families for Safe Streets will mark the World Day of Remembrance for Crash Victims with a walk and candlelight vigil on November 18, departing David Pecaut Square at 4:30 p.m.
Visit ffsafestreets.ca for more information.
Photo: The installations display items found in the aftermath of collisions between distracted drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. The artifacts are accompanied by cards that identify the item and tell stories of tragedy, loss and grief.