Author(s): McClafferty, Shkrum, Halari

Slidedeck Presentation:

CARSP 2022_Pediatric Pedestrian and Cyclist Fatalities



Data on VRU collisions are needed to predict and assess the real-world performance of new crash avoidance and crash protection safety features that are entering the Canadian fleet. Transport Canada, in partnership with the Western Motor Vehicle Safety (MOVES) Research Team, are conducting a review of fatal pedestrian and cyclist collisions in Ontario. The review involves a series of retrospective collision investigations into vulnerable road user (VRU) fatalities that occurred in the 2013 to 2020 period.


This paper outlines the study objectives and methodology and provides preliminary results from analysis of the completed data collection for the pediatric pedestrians and cyclists aged 17 years and under. A major focus of the study is the evaluation of potential benefits of advanced vehicle collision avoidance systems for pediatric VRU.


VRU Death Investigation Reports are being reviewed at the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario. The study is focused on pedestrian and cyclist deaths that occurred from 2013 to 2020 where a post-mortem was conducted. The files under review contain the Coroners Investigation Report, Post-Mortem Examination and Toxicology Report. The files frequently include reports from outside agencies including police. In-depth police collision data were simultaneously collected and analyzed on a sample of the fatal pedestrian and cyclist collisions.


Injury and collision data were collected for over 640 vulnerable road users that were fatally injured in motor vehicle collisions. Children 17 and under accounted for 45 of the VRU fatalities (N=36 pedestrian / N=9 cyclist). Most of the pediatric collisions occurred in urban areas (N=25 pedestrian / N=7 cyclist) during daylight hours (N=25 pedestrian / N=6 cyclist). In 25 of the pedestrian cases (69%) and 2 of the cyclist cases (22%) the impact speed was below 50 km/h. Many of the pedestrian impacts (N=17) occurred at an impact speed below 30 km/h and involved runover (N=16). In most cases the striking vehicle was travelling forward (N = 22 pedestrian / N = 8 cyclist) or turning (N = 8 pedestrian / N=1 cyclist). The most common pedestrian actions were “Crossing with Right of Way” (N = 10) and “Crossing with No Traffic Control” (N=7). Pedestrian collision in parking lots and private laneways were common (N = 8). The most common striking vehicle for the cyclist cases was a passenger car (N = 8 pedestrian / N = 6 cyclist). By comparison, pickup trucks (N = 8 pedestrian / N = 1 cyclist), minivans (N = 6 pedestrian / N = 1 cyclist), SUVs (N = 6 pedestrian / N = 0 cyclist) and vans (N = 4 pedestrian / N = 0 cyclist) were much more common in the pedestrian cases.


Over 50% of the collisions in this sample occurred at speeds below 50 km/h, often with the vehicle turning or starting from stop. Low speed runover collisions comprised a high percentage of the pediatric pedestrian fatalities. Driver inattention was a factor in many of the cases in this study. The elevated numbers of light utility vehicles compared to passenger cars in the pedestrian cases suggests that view obstructions also play a significant role.


Pedestrian detection systems with automatic emergency braking have the potential to prevent or reduce the severity of collisions resulting in VRU injury and/or fatality. Current systems may detect the VRU and significantly slow the vehicle at approach speeds below 50 km/h. These advanced vehicle systems have great potential to reduce the severity and frequency of pediatric VRU collisions.