Today, January 27th, has been marked by the United Nations as the international remembrance day commemorating the liberation of the remaining victims of the most notorious Nazi murder camp of WWII in southern Poland.
After an unspeakable life of surviving WWII my parents took our family from our home country, Poland, to a country, Canada, that promised a better future. But there was already another “Canada” located in this most infamous Nazi death camp in southern Poland. This “Canada” was a section of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp named so by its inmates, but not because the country of Canada had anything to do with it. It was because Canada represented some far away paradise that could only be dreamed of, where all the cruelty of that twisted world did not exist. When one could only look forward to a gas chamber there was a Canada somewhere.
What was this paradise that those inmates dreamt of, what is it now and what could it be in the future?
From a British Dominion we have become a multi-cultural, multi-racial and multi-religious society. This complexity can create dangers and it can also create opportunities. We can become a model of anger, hatred and disrespect or one of tolerance, understanding and respect. Our future can be seen clearly by looking at the choices made by people prior to WWII and listening to the last remaining witnesses of that era.
There are so very few remaining survivors of Auschwitz now, and soon there will be none. What are those survivors telling Canadians?
The survivors have reminded us that there was a pleasant-looking Uncle Adolf who was a meticulous keeper of a beautiful, formal garden. His mission was to remove all the weeds and foreign specimens that did not belong. He placed all his plantings in orderly rows and created straight walkways between. While this was taking shape many watched from a distance and accepted that this is what it was. Just a well-kept, organized, and beautiful garden. The survivors told us that Uncle Adolf could not have done all this work without his immortal assistants, Secrecy and Indifference. The survivors are telling us that there are Uncle Adolfs everywhere but their work can be of minimal effect and importance without the help of Secrecy and Indifference. When Canadians allow Secrecy and Indifference to live amongst us we will reap the “rewards” of Auschwitz and the results of WWII. The rewards can be similar to the annihilation of vast parts of Europe, its historical treasures and its peoples.
Through the filters of our sunglasses we can chose to see our world in many ways. Many of us have chosen to wear the glasses that allow us to only see the beautiful, formal garden. If we stay far enough away we do not have to explain why we do not see what the survivors of Auschwitz have seen.
In late January, 2020, the OPP conducted a “Commercial Motor Vehicle Enforcement” blitz near London, Ontario. Although the exact number of police personnel involved in the blitz is unknown it was reported that officers from Chatham-Kent, Elgin, Middlesex, Oxford, Wellington, members from the OPP’s Aviation Service, London Highway Safety Division, Field Support Bureau, and Communications and Technology Services Bureau were involved. That does not sound like a small number of personnel.
During two days of enforcement it was reported that 51 charges were laid against truck drivers, 23 against drivers of passenger cars and one bus driver was charged with following too close. In a further breakdown of the charges, 30 truck drivers were charged with following too close, seven were charged with distracted driving and no charges were laid for speeding. With respect to passenger car drivers, no drivers were charged with following too close, seven were charged with distracted driving, and 14 were charged with speeding.
From videotaped observations on Hwy 401 conducted by Gorski Consulting, about 800 vehicles would pass a police inspection point every hour and almost half of these vehicles would be Class 8 tractor-trailers. This data also indicates that every 15 minutes there would be about 15 heavy trucks and 15 passenger car and light trucks that would be observed travelling at a gap of less than 2 seconds from the vehicle ahead. Such a gap could meet the definition of following too close. Yet, as shown in the above OPP statistics, only 30 truck drivers were charged with that offence and no passenger car drivers were charged over an enforcement time of two days. If the enforcement blitz was conducted for 8 hours each day, or a total of 16 hours, the police should have observed 120 cars and trucks following too close every hour, or a total of 960 vehicles should have been observed during the 16 hour blitz. Yet only 23 truck drivers were charged and no drivers of passenger cars were charged. If the public was made aware of these facts what would they say?
Yet in the videotaped documentation conducted by Gorski Consulting, if the cameras had been pointed at the vehicle license plates, and if a high resolution was used on the cameras (Gorski Consulting purposely uses a low resolution), then all 960 violators would be documented and could be charged. This would happen at no cost to the taxpayer. But how many police personnel were actually required to catch those 23 violators and at what cost? We don’t know because that was never revealed.
This discussion is not meant to criticize the police for their attempts to keep traffic under control. Clearly enforcement is needed. But it demonstrates that police enforcement programs such as the one publicized by the OPP are not likely to capture a very large number of violators. Twenty-three out of a potential total of 960 violators results in a capture rate of just 2.4 %. It is possible that police focused their attention on the worst drivers. Yet that does not seem likely as only truck drivers were charged and no drivers of passenger cars and light trucks were caught. Yet the Gorski Consulting data indicates that drivers of cars and light trucks are as guilty of following too close as are truck drivers. So it is possible that many of the worst, habitual violators are unlikely to be caught but many normal drivers who made a mistake will be caught. Given the difficulties that this discussion reveals, an honest and open discussion is needed in a public forum so a better solution can be found.
UPDATE: January 26, 2020: 1030 Hours
The above calculations should have indicated that police should have documented 1920 vehicles following too close if their enforcement was over a 16 hour period in two days, rather than the 960 vehicles which was reported erroneously for a single day only. The 960 would be for a single day of 8 hours. As we do not know how long the actual enforcement was per day a detailed discussion is not warranted. Four hours of enforcement per day could also be considered.
The bottom line is that very few drivers who were following too close were actually ticketed. We need to understand what difficulties exist toward much higher rates of enforcement. This cannot be done in the closed atmosphere where that discussion does not occur.
The school bus driver was a hero for saving 7 students – But why is there no publicity for how and why the bus caught fire? This is a common question we ask at Gorski Consulting yet no one else wishes to ask the same question.
It has been reported that on the afternoon of Monday, January 20, 2020, a school bus operated by Roxborough Bus lines was picking up children at Rose des Vents elementary school in Cornwall when the bus suddenly caught fire. The bus driver immediately ushered 7 children off the bus and no one was injured. Now the bus driver is being hailed as a hero for her actions.
That is a wonderful result and the the bus driver’s actions may have been heroic. But is that the total story? Do we now move on to the next fire and hero? Will there always be this happy result? What if it was a full-size school bus with 50 children, would they all escape in time? What if a school driver does not take immediate action because the gravity of the situation is not realized? Do we accept that some percentage of children perish and move on? Clearly there is a problem with this logic.
Why did a fire start in this school bus and endanger the lives of innocent children? How many other school buses are likely to catch fire in the near future? Shouldn’t somebody ask?
Sometimes in our haste to save a life, we take a life. That is a tragedy that we need to avoid. But regrettably this happens too often. Sometimes while responding to an emergency police, fire or ambulance personnel may themselves become involved in a collision and questions about their actions can be emotionally charged. Emergency personnel are placed on a high pedestal when, in fact, they are no different than anyone else who is capable of making an unfortunate error. And amongst the heroes there are also incompetent, lazy and dishonest individuals who dishonour their profession but, on occasion, are protected by a system that is challenged in removing them. Instead of working at transparency the system sometimes works at hiding misdeeds from the public. This contributes to conspiracy theories and the growth of persons who can no longer approach an incident with an open mind.
When a 22-year member of Toronto Fire Services struck a child in a pedestrian crossing on December 16, 2019 on Oakwood Avenue in Toronto opinions about his character and actions will remain throughout his life much like the serious injuries to the child. The question remains, what did the driver do to deserve being charged with 1) Careless Driving Causing Bodily Harm and 2) Passing A Stopped Vehicle At A Crossover? If his actions are not deserving of these charges does he not have a right to clear his name? But history tells us that there will be little further public knowledge of how these charges are resolved.
There appears to be an obvious contradiction in the facts with respect to the second charge: Passing A Stopped Vehicle At A Crossover. When an emergency vehicle approaches traffic must pull over to the right and stop. But on Oakwood Ave there is no additional width of roadway to allow a vehicle to pull over to the right. So if a vehicle stops then it must stop within the travel lane. So when the fire truck approaches the only way that it can pass the stopped vehicle is to go around it via the opposing lane. But according to the charge he cannot pass a stopped vehicle near a pedestrian crosswalk. So what do police expect the driver of the fire truck to do? Is he supposed to stop behind the stopped vehicle indefinitely simply because the vehicle has stopped at a pedestrian crossover? As stated the charge does not seem to make sense.
With respect to Careless Driving, the Ontario Highway Traffic Act (HTA) definition reads as follows:
“Every person is guilty of the offence of driving carelessly who drives a vehicle or street car on a highway without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway…”
Thus it will need to be proven that the driver of the fire truck drove “without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway“. The reality is that any driver of an emergency vehicle that is travelling at heightened speed toward an emergency situation could be viewed as driving “without due care or reasonable consideration”. The design of our vehicles and roadways are such that they are meant to protect persons travelling at reasonable speeds, where drivers adjust those speeds to take into account the road geometry, visibility limitations, weather conditions, ability to detect and perceive and a myriad of other factors that deal with normal driving situations. They are not designed to deal with a driver trying to reach a destination as quickly as possible, no different than the driver who believes he may be late for work, wants to show off to his friends of simply decides to ignore basic road safety. While advanced driver training can improve driver abilities this does not mean that drivers of emergency vehicles are like the Incredible Hulk, suddenly becoming super-human when called upon. There are limitations to their abilities that even highly-qualified persons fail to detect when the need to perform a heroic deed takes up their full attention.
What is obvious is that drivers of police vehicles tend to speed to an emergency more so than fire or ambulance. Leading to the question whether we value catching a thief or an aggressor more than saving a life. There are numerous incidents documented by Gorski Consulting where police vehicles have been driven at extreme speeds, resulting in collisions, injuries and sometimes deaths. Yet the incidence of fire/ambulance speeding resulting in collisions is less frequent.
While some will find fault with such actions there is always a balance that needs to be maintained. If emergency vehicles do not reach a critical situation persons may die. We can complain about these lunatics on wheels until we are the ones who need immediate help and suddenly we are appreciative of the quick response. In the vast majority of instances emergency personnel do not drive like maniacs to gratify some pleasure principle but they are putting their own lives, reputations and jobs at risk for someone else’s benefit. So we need to be careful and study each incident with wisdom and detail.
Looking at the current incident involving the fire truck we need to consider what evidence there might be that his actions were careless and beyond the norm of typical emergency vehicle actions. Unfortunately, but typically, the information available to evaluate this question is scarce. What we have are several photographs taken by various news agencies showing the fire truck and only a scant description of what happened.
The single photo shown above seems to show the fire truck at its final rest position and the rear of the truck is just past the crosswalk. It is likely that the police will have access to a system that monitor’s the truck’s speed and thus the truck’s speed as it approached the crosswalk should be available to their investigation. But that information will not be available to the public. Thus the final rest position of the fire truck is the only means by which we can estimate its maximum speed.
General estimates suggest that the fire truck travelled about 15 metres past the crosswalk. If it is assumed that the driver applied maximum braking over the distance of travel then we might conclude that the fastest the truck could be going as it passed through the crosswalk was about 45 km/h. The possibility is that the truck was not being braked to a maximum level, or that the braking occurred sometime after reaching the crosswalk and therefore the approach speed could be something less than 45 km/h. Maximum braking over the noted travel distance might not have occurred if the driver did not detect the pedestrian in time to activate the brakes before impact. While skid marks may indicate the presence of maximum braking there are many occasions where maximum braking occurs without visible skid marks when a road surface is damp or wet. Sometimes maximum deceleration can occur just before full lock-up of a wheel and this is the benefit of anti-lock braking. Some trucks are becoming equipped with such anti-lock braking. And often we see tire marks from some tires but not others, or the length of one tire mark is greater than others. So whether or not tire marks were visible along the fire truck’s path does not necessarily resolve the issue.
News media indicated that the child was struck with the front surface of the truck. Given the tall and somewhat flat front surface of the truck such an impact would involve a “forward projection” trajectory of the child and this scenario allows for the child’s throw distance to be used as a good estimate of the truck’s speed.
Also the relationship between the rest position of the fire truck and the rest position of the child would also provide further collaboration as to the extent of braking. This is so because, if little or no braking occurred the truck would pass by the resting position of the child and the child would located underneath or behind the truck. We know that a tumbling human body might decelerate at a rate of about 0.5g and this is also near to the maximum braking capability of a loaded fire truck. Thus, all things being equal, if the truck was braked to its maximum capability from the instant of impact then the rest position of the child should be close to the rest position of the front end of the fire truck.
The extent of injury to the child also provides a general approximation of the impact speed. Given that the child sustained serious but not critical injuries this tends to support the notion that the fire truck was travelling slower than the maximum of 45 km/h. While pedestrian injury prediction from vehicle speed contains some variance and uncertainty, investigators who are intimately familiar with a large volume of collision and injury data can come to some broad conclusions.
The front end of a fire truck is not pedestrian friendly. The front end is likely to be stiffer than that of a car or light truck. And there are jagged edges of metal that are not designed to take pedestrian impact. Increasingly the front ends of cars and light trucks are designed in consideration of the typical impact patterns of pedestrians and so injury severity at a similar speed would be less in comparison to an impact by the fire truck. The differences in mass ( car vs fire truck) of the striking vehicles is not relevant for pedestrian impacts. So, overall, given the scant information that is available, it is likely that the fire truck was travelling below the maximum of 45 km/h. Again, police should have event data evidence obtained from systems on the fire truck, or systems connected with the fire truck, that should provide more detailed evidence of speed.
We might ask: What is it about this likely moderate speed that would indicate that the fire truck driver was careless? It was noted in various news media that the fire truck passed a stopped vehicle at the crosswalk. So a scenario like this could generate the noted concern regarding carelessness. Coincidentally, a Google Maps view of the collision site provides a situation where a tall delivery van is shown at the crosswalk, as noted in the frame below. This would be a similar view that the fire truck driver would have upon travelling toward the crosswalk. Although the truck driver would be seated in a high position relative to a car, it is likely the the Google camera is positioned even higher thus the view in the frame is not exactly the same.
What we can see in the frame is that two pedestrians are crossing the crossroad (Rosemount Ave) near the right part of the frame. Although this is not this same direction of travel as the struck child, it never-the-less provides some perspective with respect to heights and visibility involved.
In another Google Maps view shown below we can see the same delivery vehicle and the view is a short time before the first frame. This second frame shows that the view of the two pedestrians is blocked by the delivery van.
What is apparent in the above frame is the lack of visibility, past the left front corner of the delivery van, of pedestrians that may be walking in the crosswalk and into the lane where the fire truck would be passing the stopped vehicle. Given that an 11-year-old female would not be very tall, even if the stopped vehicle was a passenger car, it would be difficult or impossible to see the child over the roof of that car. So it is quite likely that the fire truck driver could not see the child pedestrian until the very last instant before impact.
The delay in detecting, identifying and reacting to the presence of a danger is constantly debated in the collision reconstruction community. This is perhaps the area of greatest misunderstanding and the area whereby we can make mistakes in understanding human behaviour. In the context of motor vehicle collisions, when a driver is prepared for a potential emergence of a danger and the driver is focused and prepared to contact a brake pedal, that action of braking can begin in as short a time as 0.5 seconds. And so many games are played by defense and prosecution at trial to demonstrate that this short delay should, or should not, be applied to their current case.
Alternatively, there could be situations where drivers must look in various and conflicting directions, or they must make quick decisions about choices of avoidance. In some instances a very small portion of the dangerous object (pedestrian) is detected and it cannot be identified until a larger portion comes into view. In other instances various lighting and contrast conditions exist where the object that is to be detected is more difficult to detect. The detection may be so difficult that, after an impact, the driver may say “What just happened? Did I just hit something?” Not knowing that an impact occurred has caused many instances where a driver has driven a considerable distance, evaluating and arguing with the evidence in their mind, before coming to a stop and returning to the area of suspected impact.
It can also be noted that roadway design standards assume a perception response delay of 2.5 seconds. This accounts for a large percentage of instances where drivers are given enough time to respond.
All these complications do not lead to a straightforward answer with respect to what kind of delay should be applied when an incident is complicated.
Yet, on face value, the present collision with the fire truck and child pedestrian should not be complicated. We should believe that, once the child “came into view” there should have been a very quick response on the part of the fire truck driver. But what is a very quick response? At 45 km/h the fire truck would be travelling about 12.5 metres every second. Thus even at a perception-response delay of just 0.5 seconds the truck would travel over 6 metres before a response could be initiated.
But there is more. Maximum braking of a fire truck, like all heavy trucks, does not start instantaneously. Pedal pressure that sends air through the air lines can have a considerable delay before reaching all wheels and we might add another 0.5 seconds or more before maximum braking can be achieved. Thus the belief that the driver could achieve maximum braking by the time the front end of the fire truck reached the crosswalk could be in doubt. And therefore that maximum speed of 45 km/h could also be in doubt. So what would we say if the fire truck was actually travelling only 40 or 35 km/h as he approached the crosswalk? Is this a careless act of driving “without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration”?
We can also see that the crosswalk contains overhead lights that could have been activated as the fire truck approached. So was the fire truck obligated to stop for the flashing lights before proceeding forward? Most likely Yes. This is because such a requirement is set out when fire trucks approach a red traffic signal. They may pass through the red traffic signal only after stopping and ensuring that it is safe to do so. That is the written law as noted in the HTA Section 144 (20):
“…a driver of an emergency vehicle, after stopping the vehicle, may proceed without a green indication being shown if it is safe to do so.”
In the reality of practical functioning, essentially no emergency vehicles come to a full stop before proceeding through a red traffic signal. This is an observation made on numerous occasions. However it could be acceptable to reduce speed to a low level, depending on the individual circumstances of each case, and then proceed through a red signal. Again this is a matter of balancing the increased danger of a collision versus reaching an emergency with minimal delay.
One the other hand a pedestrian should be able to hear and see the approach of a fire truck more easily than a driver who is seated in an enclosed space. It has to be questioned why this child pedestrian, who was old enough to understand the meaning of emergency sirens and lights, would walk out into the path of the fire truck. In the outside environment the sound of a siren from a fire truck is extremely loud and it should have been detected by the child. More frequently children, and adults, walk with ear buds in their ears as they listen to music and other content on a mobile device. This is a major problem because they cannot hear important warnings that affect their safety. The usage of such a device by the child pedestrian could explain why she appeared to be unaware of the fire truck’s approach.
In the end there are many unknowns about this incident and they will continue to be unknown to the public. The point that is rarely discussed is the degree to which these unknowns affect the public’s perceptions and understandings about the actions of emergency personnel. Lack of information is what leads to the development of erred opinions and conclusions. There is little concern in official circles about these developments. Emergency agencies spend considerable resources to create a positive image in the public’s eye. This includes speaking engagements, involvement in charitable organizations and publicity that shows the good actions emergency personnel. Yet when a traffic incident occurs that raises questions about the actions of those personnel there is no effort made to provide the public with reasonably detailed information to correct misunderstandings that often occur. Rumours are spread that are inflammatory, especially in the social media, because there is little factual information to douse those rumours.
In the end the administrators of emergency agencies are sometimes the agencies’ worst enemies. They do little to ensure that the reputations of their agencies are protected in those instances where their actions appear questionable. Where a fire, ambulance or police member has made a mistake it needs to be identified as such and the public needs to be reminded that no one functions in a vacuum of perfection. When attempts are made to hide those mistakes the public is not so naive to fail to recognize it. The old adage “Honesty is the best policy” is not just a cute saying. The bite of its lacking can be infectious.
Those responsible for keeping us safe are failing in their duties when a driver sustains critical injuries from impacting a flimsy bus shelter and no explanation is provided.
There is no structure to a bus shelter that could cause a vehicle to decelerate in the manner that it would in a 50 km/h, immovable barrier test. This is the type of compliance test that is performed by numerous governments to determine whether a vehicle design is safe enough to be allowed on our roads. So why did the driver sustain critical injuries? This does not make any sense unless something else happened. So what else happened? Why have police, news media and others who are supposed to inform the public about dangers that could kill them not explained what caused those injuries?
Three days ago Gorski Consulting posted results from videotaped observations of vehicles passing through a curve in the fall of 2009. Those results showed that the average speed of vehicles passing through the curve was 75.2 km/h, or over 15 km/h higher than the posted sign indicating an advised speed of 60 km/h. We then indicated that in the fall of 2019 the speed advisory was reduced to 50 km/h and we asked readers whether drivers were likely to reduce their speeds due to the reduction in the advised speed. Well, analysis of videotaped documentation just after the sign change in the fall of 2019 has now been completed and we have those results.
Videotaping using multiple, synchronized cameras was conducted on October 16, 2019, at the north curve of the S-curve of Clarke Road in northeastern London, Ontario. 100 observations were documented over a period of about 24 minutes. The results indicated that the average speed of these 100 vehicles was 72.8 km/h, or about 23 km/h higher than the advised speed of 50 km/h. As observed 10 years ago, not a single vehicle was observed to be travelling at or below the advised speed. However two vehicles were observed to be travelling below the old, advised speed of 60km/h and those are shown in the frame below.
The above vehicles were the slowest ones in all the observed testing. It is likely that the Pick-up truck was travelling so slow because its motion was interfered with by the slow-moving truck. This is a common problem in evaluating what speed drivers select. Drivers cannot go any faster than the vehicle they are following so this tends to reduce the average speed. To deal with this confound Gorski Consulting made some adjustments to the data as follows:
- Observations were removed in those instances where the following vehicle was within 5 seconds of the lead vehicle. Thus the observation of the Pick-up truck in the above frame was removed.
- The following vehicle had to be travelling below 72 km/h in order to be removed from the study. In this way we kept those instances where the following vehicle was travelling at above average speed because the lead vehicle was travelling at above average speed and there is less argument that the following vehicle’s speed was interfered by the slow-moving traffic ahead.
By making this adjustment, 10 of the 70 observations of slow-moving vehicles from 10 years ago were removed from the data. Similarly in the October 16, 2019 study, 20 of the 100 observations were removed from the data. The revised results indicated that the average speed in 2009 was 76.7 km/h whereas in 2019 the average was 74.5. Given the small numbers of observations the reduced average of about 2 km/h could be attributed to small-sample variance or it might also indicate that a true, but slight, reduction in speed was obtained with the reduction in the advised speed. But what significance does that have in terms of the overall safety of the public? Clearly drivers do not follow the advice of the posted sign. They did not follow that advice ten years ago, and it is our observation that, in general, where ever and whenever, drivers do not obey posted speed limits unless they are forced to do so.
During the short time that Zygmunt Gorski was a member of the City of London Community Safety and Crime Prevention Committee in 2019, similar data was presented for discussion from testing performed within a school zone in east London. That Gorski Consulting study showed that drivers were ignoring the posted reduction in speed of 40 km/h. Instead of allowing this study to be debated the City refused its attachment to the agenda of the Committee meeting. Similar actions by the City involving the Transportation Advisory Committee led Zygmunt Gorski to resign from both committees. Actions like these demonstrate the resistance that officials have to making a realistic assessment of the dangers posed in their traffic systems.
While there is considerable propaganda about the gains made through “Vision Zero” approaches to traffic safety, the reality is that there is still resistance to change that affects public road safety. Many officials maintain the unreasonable belief that a simple change in posted speeds will result in an increase in safety on a road segment or within a safety zone. Studies by Gorski Consulting continue to demonstrate that this belief is unrealistic. Yet officials continue in their attempts to block studies, such as those performed by Gorski Consulting, that demonstrate the unreasonableness of these beliefs.
There could be a simple explanation why a video showed a salting/sanding truck pushing a car into a guardrail in Toronto.
As the truck driver explained, he was attempting to steer into the right lane and did not observe the car. If the car was located at his right front wheel then the results of testing shown by Gorski Consulting in an article a few days earlier could explain why the car was not visible to the truck driver. If the truck contacted the left side of the car and behind the car’s centre-of-gravity this would cause the counter-clockwise rotation of the car such that the left-front portion of the car would come to be positioned across the right front end of the truck. Due to this positioning the truck would experience greater resistance to motion (i.e. “drag”) at its right front wheel and this would cause the truck to be dragged toward the right and toward the guardrail. This is what was visible in the video. Thus the exaggerated motion of the truck toward the guardrail may not have been a deliberate act of the truck driver but due to the higher resistance to motion at the right front of the truck.
Many persons watching the video and observing the car being pushed toward the guardrail have made the assumption that the observed motion was carried out on purpose as some kind of road rage action. But that is likely not the case. There could be a logical explanation for the observed incident that could place little blame on the truck driver if he was incapable of detecting the car if the car entered into the truck’s blind spot. While there is insufficient information at this time to be certain what took place, police need to review all the available evidence/data and not rush to conclusions like so many have.
Social media outrage has clogged the internet upon the release of a short video showing a sanding truck pushing a car into a guardrail on Highway 401. Police reported they were not aware of the incident but since then they confirm that it occurred on January 13, 2020 near Bayview Ave in Toronto. Certainly police are correct in announcing that they need to obtain further information before considering what actually happened.
But isn’t it obvious what happened? Clearly the public sees 12 seconds of this monstrously large truck pushing the car as it is sideways at the truck’s front end. We already know exactly what happened. Or do we?
There are many reasons why short segments of video can be deceiving. Not much different from short segments of an event that is seen by an Incredible Eyewitness (read the writings of psychologist Elizabeth Loftus). At Gorski Consulting we often say that “Visibility is in the mind of the Beholder”.
Reports circulating in the media indicate that the driver of the salting truck was “unaware” of the car. Those wanting to lynch the driver cannot understand how the driver could not be aware of the car since the driver’s truck was pushing the car throughout the 12 seconds of video. What nonsense comes the cry, surely anyone should be able to detect that they are impacting another vehicle for at least 12 seconds. But let us examine this problem more technically.
The demonstration shown in the frame below was arranged by Gorski Consulting with respect to one of our older client files wherein a truck and car collision caused in the death of the car driver. The car and truck had been side-by-side at one point during the commencement of the incident. One can see that a black car has been placed next to the right front wheel of the truck in a manner where it was alleged that a minor contact occurred which sent the car into a counter-clockwise rotation, much like the video of the sanding truck.
In the next frame below we can see that the car is relatively close to the right front wheel of the truck.
In the next frame below we show the truck driver’s view toward the right front of his cab and toward the right side mirrors. This view is taken when the truck driver is seated in his seat and the black car is positioned in the same location as shown in the previous frames. It should be obvious that the car cannot be seen by the truck driver.
In the frame below, the photographer has stood up at the right front seat of the truck cab and the photo is taken looking down to the location of the black car which is still in the same position as it was in the previous frames. Now, a partial view of the car can be seen. But truck drivers do not drive while standing up in front of the right front seat of their cab.
This analysis was also conducted by placing the black car in front of the truck in the manner shown in the frame below. Again the car was not visible to the truck driver.
Other observations can be made from the frame shown below where two investigators are standing several metres in front of the subject truck. The visibility of those two pedestrians from the truck driver’s seat can be seen in the following frame.
As shown in the frame below, most of the pedestrians’ bodies are not visible. A typical male, standing about 5 feet 10 inches, or about 178 centimetres, is taller than a typical passenger car which is usually less than 150 centimetres tall. The bottom line is that a car positioned in the location of these pedestrians would not be seen by a truck driver seated in his seat.
In the actual investigation there was a claim by a witness that she saw the impact between the car left side of the car and the right front of the truck tractor. This scenario was reconstructed by placing a similar car at a similar distance behind the truck as shown below.
Inside the witness vehicle a camera was placed at the witness driver’s head similar to the video camera position shown in the frame below.
The witness view could then be recreated as shown in the “zoomed in” view shown below.
The witness could not see whether an impact occurred and she later admitted so just before she was supposed to testify at trial.
Never-the-less the truck driver received a guilty verdict and was sentenced to 4 years in jail for failing to remain at the scene of the collision. This occurred because there had been a second collision between the truck and the car after the car had rotated in front the truck and substantial damage occurred to the left side of the car from that second collision. Although the existence of the first impact was disputed due to lack of physical evidence, the existence of the second collision was beyond doubt as it was supported by the physical evidence. There was a great misunderstanding by the court that the truck driver must have been capable of detecting that second impact as there was substantial damage to the left side of the car and the truck driver must have been able to see the car sliding sideways because the car was directly in front of the truck. It became impossible to explain to the court that the severity of a substantial impact to a car might only be registered an a 1g deceleration to a very massive truck. With heavy braking and hard steering to avoid the sliding car, including the typical vibrations that exist in a truck cab, there could be substantial doubt in the mind of the truck driver that a collision had occurred if he was incapable of seeing the car in the last seconds before impact. Additional, explainable complications occurred which caused the truck driver to leave the collision site much like the driver of the sanding truck shown in the video.
This demonstration shows a typical problem with witness information. While many independent witnesses want to be helpful, and many are, too many times their information is unreliable and sometimes completely fabricated. When a death is involved there is an urgency to want to find someone at fault who can pay for the result, not necessarily to pay for the actions that they performed.
In the scenario of the video showing the sanding truck and the car it has been reported that there were no injuries and that both vehicles left the collision site without reporting it to police. But what if the car driver died? Would the driver of the sanding truck be charged with leaving the scene of a crime? Should he then receive a four year jail sentence?
There is a rush to judgment by many who, through their personal biases, want to see a result, such as punishment for some perceived wrongdoing, without wanting to consider alternative possibilities. We would want to feel assured that such prejudice exists in only the rare few. Regrettably that is not the case. Many persons in official positions who ought to know better and upon whom we rely to achieve a just result fail to keep their prejudices in check.
An elderly defense lawyer once told us that he disagreed with capital punishment, even though some persons deserved it. He disagreed with it because in far too many instances our justice system is incapable of differentiating between the truly guilty and the truly innocent. It is a painful result when a guilty person does not pay for their crime but it is even more painful when an innocent person’s life is destroyed because we did not conduct a fair trial of their actions, not the consequences that occurred.
Governments spend money to post various warning signs on highways but do drivers heed these warnings? It would seem to be a waste of money if these signs were ignored. Gorski Consulting has conducted testing that reveals some interesting results.
In 2009 Gorski Consulting conducted a series of videotaping sessions on a challenging S-curve of Clarke Road in the north-east of the City of London, Ontario. The figure shown above is taken from testing conducted on October 8, 2009. This figure shows how a grid of markers was set up on the pavement in the curve so that vehicle speeds and their position within the lane of the curve could be documented. At that time a speed advisory sign had been posted advising motorists that they should proceed through the curve at a speed of 60 km/h, as shown below.
Ten years later, in late September, 2019, the speed advisory sign was changed to lower the advised speed to 50 km/h, as shown in the figure below.
Would drivers take this advised speed reduction into account and lower their speeds?
An analysis of the average speed of vehicles passing through this curve was conducted based on the videotaping from 2009. Based on 70 northbound vehicles whose speeds were documented using multiple video camera technology the average speed was 75.2 km/h. 31.4 percent of these vehicles were found to be travelling at a speed of 80 km/h or higher. Thus 31.4 percent of drivers were travelling at 20 km/h or higher than the advised speed. Out of the 70 vehicles that were documented not a single driver was observed to be travelling at a speed of 60 km/h or less.
What sense is there to install these warning signs? Transportation officials in Ontario conduct similar speed documentations to what has been done by Gorski Consulting. Thus they are fully aware of these statistics.
Further multiple video camera documentation was conducted at this site in the autumn of 2019, or ten years after the results noted above. This documentation was completed a few weeks after the lowered advised speed was posted. This video is in the process of being analysed and the results will be made available shortly. What do you think the results will show?
The starter’s pistol has been fired into the proceedings of the Red Hill Valley Parkway fiasco that will plague the City of Hamilton for a number of years into the future. Presently officials are arguing over who can line up at the starting line, allowing them to give evidence at the inquiry later this fall. But who decides which entity gets disqualified even before the start of the race? If someone, agency or business wants to give testimony who decides that it won’t happen and will there be reasons given why some entities will not be allowed to participate? Will the entities that are refused participation be publicly identified?
The Commissioner of the Inquiry, Justice Herman J. Wilton-Siegel will make these decisions. Given the track record of of recent events surrounding politics at the City of Hamilton Justice Wilton-Siegel needs to recognize that the taxpayers of the City of Hamilton need to be given the greatest priority with respect to official standing at the inquiry. Matters such as access to documents for example cannot be hidden from the public and only provided to the select participants who have claimed official standing.
From a perception viewpoint the Red Hill Valley Parkway Inquiry is not off to a good start. The Terms of Reference of the Inquiry have been authored by the very entity, the City of Hamilton, who could be determined as guilty of hiding the Tradewinds Scientific Report that is the subject of the inquiry. While Hamilton’s City council claims that he did not know that the Tradewinds report existed one only needs to look at council’s recent track record to be concerned. It was Hamilton’s city councillors who did not tell the public about a sewage leak into the local Chedoke Creek – a leak that was going on for over four years. This occurred even after they knew that the Red Hill Valley Parkway fiasco was reaching the public. How trustworthy are city councillors in that they are allowed to write the rules as to how the inquiry into their actions will held?
As anyone who needs to pass by a sewage leak Hamilton taxpayers need to hold their noses and wait. Wait to see if someone with any integrity will make the Red Hill Valley Parkway Inquiry work as it should. At this point those participating in the inquiry had better recognize that any further mischief with respect to secrecy and hiding essential facts from the public may result in even greater consequences.