News | Montreal police targeting jaywalkers

New strategies failing to reduce pedestrian accidents

The Service de police de la ville de Montréal  (SPVM) is pushing to curb jaywalking after recent research found that, in 2010, 50 per cent of automobile deaths each year involved pedestrians. Of those deaths, 61 per cent were caused by jaywalking.

In 2005, there were 1,818 collisions in Montreal involving pedestrians, including 24 fatalities. In response to this issue, Officer Sophia Provost,  the lead officer for Pedestrian Safety, worked with the SPVM Road Safety Division on a five-year plan, based on the “three E’s”: engineering, education, and enforcement.

Furthermore, the plan increased fines for jaywalking. Emma Quail, a McGill graduate, was fined for jaywalking three years ago.

“I walked across the street on Mont-Royal and just east of St. Denis when the light was red and some person on the other side was waving at me to stop, but I did not think much of it, so I continued regardless,” she said.

A police car was stationed across the street and she was ticketed $38.

“Apparently the cop was just waiting there for people all day,” she continued.

Despite the ticketing threat and visible SPVM presence, Montrealers are still jaywalking. The Daily spoke with several students at the intersection of Duluth and Milton, all of whom admitted to jaywalking regularly. Even Quail admitted that she still jaywalked, “just not when a police car is around.”

One international student, Fanny Devaux, a U2 Political Science and Hispanic Studies student from France, didn’t know jaywalking is illegal in Canada.

“I had no idea, I do it all the time,” she said. “I guess I’ll be more careful now.”

Students do not appear to factor into pedestrian accidents, however. It is Montreal’s ageing population that weighed significantly in the statistical analysis, representing up to two-thirds of accidents.

However, Emilie Boutin, a U1 Education student, said she jaywalked much less in Montreal than in her hometown of Ottawa.

“I know three people who got fined in Montreal. Don’t do it in front of the police in Montreal, you will get fined,” she said.

The SPVM’s program seems to be working. The police issued 44,000 jaywalking tickets to pedestrians last year.

Other than fining jaywalkers, by the end of 2010 the municipal government had completed streetscape improvements at 114 intersections, including painting zebra crossings and installing countdowns on pedestrian traffic signals.

Despite the increased ticketing and infrastructure improvements, pedestrian fatalities have not been reduced. There have been nine pedestrian deaths in Montreal since September 1 this year.