The Art of Distraction Campaign
To remind people to pay attention on our streets, “The Art of Distraction” campaign recounts tragic stories and showcases items (either real or recreated) taken from deadly collision sites on the streets of Toronto. The campaign brings attention to road safety and aims to influence safer, less distracted behaviour while on the road.
The campaign is featured across multiple platforms and media until mid-December. 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.
14-year-old Violet was walking to school on her first day of 10th grade when her young life came to a tragic end on one of Toronto’s streets. Violet was crossing at a crosswalk when she was hit by someone driving a construction truck, making a left turn. Despite desperate efforts to save her, Violet was pronounced dead at the scene.
70-year-old Gary was riding his bike when he was hit by a person driving a van attempting to make a right turn into the entrance of a plaza parking lot. Gary never regained consciousness and his family was never able to say their goodbyes. Gary was a vocal advocate for the cycling community, often tweeting about everything from snow in bike lanes to road safety. His family decided to send one final Twitter message to his followers: #BikeTO this is my last tweet as I pedal my ghost bike with you all. I was struck down while riding and did not survive #sharetheroad
Erica, a mother of three young boys, was taking a service-dog-in-training for a walk on a bright clear day when she stopped and waited to cross at an intersection. Suddenly, a driver in a minivan veered off the street, jumped the curb, crashed into a bus pole, knocked a traffic light off its concrete base and hit Erica. A passerby tried to save her and held Erica while she died.
Recently retired Edouard was cycling on a trail near his home when he was hit and killed by someone driving a car. Edouard had the right of way and was crossing at a crosswalk when the driver ran the red. The impact was so severe that Edouard’s wife and family were unable to donate his organs, something he had requested in his will.
35-year-old Tom, a local elementary school teacher, was riding his bike when he was struck by someone driving a van, projected into the path of another vehicle and hit a second time. The van driver fled the scene, eventually turning himself in to police. On the day Tom was killed, police gave his wife a paper bag containing Tom’s keys, wallet and wedding ring. These items encapsulate who he was to us and represent all that we lost, said his wife.
90-year-old Marr was crossing the street at a crosswalk when she was hit and run over. The person driving the car fled the scene, then later turned himself in to police. The driver, who was later convicted of charges under the Criminal Code, was turning right on a red light when Marr was struck. Marr died two days later from massive internal injuries. Her purse fell off her shoulder during impact and was run over.
Jessica was riding her bike when a person driving an SUV T-boned her and sent her flying. The collision fractured her spine, tore ligaments throughout the joints on the left side of her body, and left her with a brain injury that causes her short-term memory loss. Shortly after the crash, serious blood-clot-related complications nearly killed Jessica a second time. Jessica continues to live with the effects of her injuries every day.
Kristy Hodgson was out walking her two dogs in the middle of the afternoon when a person in a car suddenly drove across the bike lane, jumped the curb, travelled along the sidewalk for almost 20 metres and hit her – killing Kristy and one of her dogs, Betty. The driver said he took his eyes off the road for just a second and was reaching to pick up a fallen plastic water bottle.
Richard was walking on the sidewalk when someone in a car, exiting a parking lot, hit him. He said the driver was texting at the time of impact. Richard was knocked down and his knapsack caught on the car’s licence plate as he fell. Richard was shaken up and, while he did not report the incident, he understandably had a lot to say to the driver. What happened to Richard happens all too frequently on our streets.
About Friends and Families for Safe Streets
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 ffsafestreets.ca or follow them on Facebook at facebook.com/ffsafestreets or on Twitter at twitter.com/FFSafeStreets.
Friends and Families for Safe Streets is proud to partner with the City of Toronto on this important Art Of Distraction campaign. They are strong supporters of the City’s VisionZero Road Safety Plan focused on reducing traffic-related deaths and injuries to zero.