CKFH email@example.com_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2005-12-19 published
Pat CURRAN, Traffic Reporter (1939-2005)
Until helicopters cut her out of a job, the Canadian Automobile Association traffic reporter did her daily best to make sure everyone in Toronto got home safely
By Danny GALLAGHER, Special to The Globe and Mail, Monday, December 19, 2005, Page S11
Toronto -- Pat CURRAN was the Voice of the Canadian Automobile Association in Toronto and an authority on school-safety patrols and road and vehicle safety. Every day, she did her best to try and make sure people got home safely.
From 1962 to 1977, Pat CURRAN broadcast radio reports on most Metro Toronto stations. The motor league had its own studio -- with direct lines to most of the city's big radio stations -- where she put on her headset and went to work smoothing the way for Toronto commuters.
According to the Canadian Automobile Association, Ms. CURRAN was only the second traffic reporter in the city and the only woman to hold such a post, prompting a Toronto Telegram reporter to write: "Pat CURRAN, the dulcet, if not downright sexy voice you hear giving the morning traffic reports on such stations as CKFH, CHIC and CHFI."
Ms. CURRAN gave her reports during rush hour in the early morning and then in late afternoon -- both for about two hours at a time. Her information came from the Canadian Automobile Association's own patrol vehicles, the police, from emergency call boxes on the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway and from tow-truck drivers and the like.
Pat CURRAN was a graduate of the radio-and-television-arts course at Toronto's Ryerson Polytechnic Institute who ached to be an announcer. One week before graduating, she sent an application to the Canadian Automobile Association and was hired almost immediately. Making use of what her mother Norma CURRAN called a "very nice, modulated voice," she also enjoyed two five-minute spots per week on radio shows by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation broadcaster Elwood GLOVER.
"I was in Toronto, the major market, and doing what I wanted," Pat CURRAN told her company publication Canadian Automobile Association Today in 1995, the year she retired. "The part I enjoyed doing most were the traffic reports. Women were frowned upon in radio, so I think I broke the ground for the coming crowd."
In 1977, radio stations began using reporters aloft in helicopters and that signalled the end of her traffic reports. Her role became redundant.
"The Canadian Automobile Association's service was no longer required when the helicopter era began," Norma CURRAN said. "The radio stations were feeding Pat's information to the helicopter reporters. Pat was doing all the work and the helicopter reporters weren't doing much and the Canadian Automobile Association felt that wasn't right. The Canadian Automobile Association did these traffic reports as a public service and decided it was time to end it. The radio station at the Canadian Automobile Association was taken out immediately."
But it wasn't the end of Ms. CURRAN's tenure with the Canadian Automobile Association. She became manager of consumer and public information for its consumer and technical services division. When media outlets wanted an opinion on traffic and other travel issues, Ms. CURRAN was the Canadian Automobile Association person most often quoted.
Her specialty, however, was school patrols and vehicle and road safety. She worked closely with Transport Canada to promote the proper use of child-restraint systems and she implemented a wide variety of safety programs for drivers and pedestrians. She campaigned incessantly for seat-belt legislation and promoted the concept of government-approved standards for seat belts in automobiles manufactured in North America.
From 1969 until 1995, Ms. CURRAN co-ordinated the Canadian Automobile Association's training camp for school safety patrol officers and pioneered the introduction of guards at street crossings near schools.
"Pat originated all the safety patrols and crossing guards at schools in conjunction with the police and the boards of education," said Sam CASS, for 39 years Toronto's commissioner of roads and traffic. "She threw her weight around considerably. She persuaded the provincial government to include traffic safety in their policies on highways and roads.
"Way back then, traffic safety wasn't considered that important by the police. To some police officers, traffic duty was a punishment. But now it's a major part of policing."
Mr. CASS said Ms. CURRAN even convinced the Ministry of Transportation to widen the shoulders on the sides of Ontario roads and to move poles and posts even farther back so that drivers would be less likely to run into them. She also served on the Toronto Metro Safety Council, the Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals and the Better Roads Coalition.
It would be safe to say that Pat CURRAN was obsessed with safety. After her death, Norman CURRAN discovered the trunk of her daughter's car held enough winter emergency equipment to supply an alpine ski patrol. "I couldn't believe the stuff that was in there," Norma CURRAN said. "If she was in trouble in bad weather, she was prepared. She practised what she preached."
Pat CURRAN was born March 29, 1939, in Hamilton, Ontario She died of leukemia in Toronto on July 19, 2005. She leaves her mother Norma. She never married and was predeceased by her father, William, and brother, Robert.
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