ON THE ROAD: Shining light on pedestrian safety


ICBC Road Safety Coordinator


DIWALI, the festival of lights, symbolizes the championing of light over darkness. It’s one of my favourite celebrations and it’s also timely as we experience increasingly dark and wet weather. Unfortunately, these weather conditions also contribute to a significant increase in pedestrian-related crashes at this time of year in B.C.

As drivers, we need to put ourselves in pedestrians’ shoes and recognize just how much more vulnerable they are to injuries or death from a crash.

We’re running new radio advertising to prompt drivers be more aware of the risks to pedestrians primarily in the Lower Mainland where we see a higher number of pedestrian crashes.

So when you’re driving, please keep these tips in mind:

* Focus on the road. Take a break from your phone or any other hand-held electronic device while you’re driving.

* Be ready to yield to pedestrians – especially when turning in intersections and near transit stops.

* Look twice for pedestrians crossing the road especially when visibility is poor.

* Give yourself extra time and space to stop in case a pedestrian suddenly crosses the street; expect the unexpected.

While drivers play a critical role in preventing crashes with pedestrians – pedestrians also need to take extra care to help drivers see them. To raise awareness about the risks for pedestrians on our roads, my road safety colleagues and our partners are again in B.C. communities handing out free safety reflectors. The reflectors can be attached to handbags and backpacks or other gear, so no matter what you’re wearing, you’ll be easier to see on the road.

As pedestrians, we need to put ourselves in the driver’s seat since it’s much harder to be seen this time of year. So when you’re walking, remember to:

* Be careful at intersections. Watch for drivers turning left or right through the crosswalk. Drivers may be focused on oncoming traffic instead of scanning for you.

* Always cross at designated crosswalks. Follow pedestrian signs and traffic signals and never cross once the signal has turned yellow or red light.

* Always make eye contact with drivers and never assume that a driver sees you.

* Wear reflective clothing or gear and flashlights to make it easier for drivers to see you in wet weather, at dusk and at night.

* On rural roads without sidewalks, make yourself visible and always walk facing traffic so you can see oncoming drivers.

Whether you’re a driver or a pedestrian, help make this week’s Diwali celebrations both safe and memorable. Remember, we can all do our part to keep pedestrians safe.