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David Ball with Metro News reports on  the City of Vancouver’s unorthodox use of road reader signs that normally let drivers know whether there is construction ahead or a detour. In this case, the City of Vancouver enlisted “maintenance equipment…to remind commuters of fentanyl’s fatal toll, according to a tweet posted to the city’s official update Twitter account in mid-April.”

The sign read “1000+ lives lost,” the sign flashed, followed by, “1+ year fentanyl crisis.” The fentanyl crisis is devastating and there are very few people who have not been personally impacted by the depths of this epidemic. The surprise though-why are these reader boards being used to alert motorists? Are they a key group? Does the City not have other places to put this information up, along with links to assist and educate?

And if we are using reader boards to remind drivers of the horrifying fentanyl tragedy, could they also not be utilized to remind motorists to slow down and watch for pedestrians, especially after 2016 where a  one pedestrian a month reportedly  died on city streets? Between 2010 and 2016 the Coroners’ Office of British Columbia reported that 64 pedestrians were killed on Vancouver streets. Of that number, 61 per cent where over the age of 50 years , with one-third of all killed over 70 years of age. Of the 47 pedestrians who died in British Columbia from January to  October 2016, 40 per cent were killed in intersections, with 2/3 of those pedestrians crossing with a green light.

This rate of death in the City of Vancouver  is twice that reported by the City of Toronto who is actively looking at alternatives to stop the carnage.  Could these reader boards also remind drivers of  the horrific civic pedestrian road toll and request drivers to slow down and alter behaviour?