Pedestrians take warning

Photo credit: Emilie Eagan on Flickr

Four pedestrians were killed and three were seriously injured by cars in Vancouver within 10 days this summer.

So far in 2011 (seven months into the year) there have been 12 pedestrian fatalities. In all of 2010, nine pedestrians were killed – which is still too many.

These sad numbers are from a recent Vancouver Province article that reads “Vancouver Police have issued a crackdown on motorists, pedestrians and cyclists after a rise in traffic-related fatalities in the city.”

I followed up with Sgt. Paul Ballard of the VPD Traffic Section.

“We’ve come out in the media to speak to pedestrian safety,” he said. “We want to reiterate our safety message, and say: ‘Don’t be the next one that’s out there.'”

Sgt. Ballard said the VPD is using a “Three E” approach to traffic safety: education, enforcement, and engineering. As far as tickets go, they will range from $86 to 121 depending on which parts of the B.C Motor Vehicle Act or Vancouver Street and Traffic Bylaw 2849 have been violated. They also are filming some new public safety announcements that will be out in September – using Sgt. Ballard’s voice.

What are pedestrians doing wrong?

Sgt. Ballard has been with the VPD for 32 years – 11 of them in traffic division. I asked him to tell me the worst things he sees pedestrians do.

“The most dangerous thing you can do is stop paying attention when you are out in live traffic – people with their heads down, paying attention to their social media, tapping away with their thumbs and they’re not really keeping their heads up and paying attention to their surroundings,” he said.

Photo credit: Looking Glass on Flickr

Another bad behaviour he sees is people at crosswalks rushing across the street when the big, red hand starts to flash.

“It means ‘don’t walk,’ but I think the general impression people have is: ‘better hurry up because it’s going to go to solid red here,'” he said.

Pedestrians also endanger themselves by emerging from parked cars to cross mid-block. Some cross wide, multi-lane streets when there’s a curve in the road. They can’t see what’s coming and drivers can’t see them.

Some pedestrians stand way too close to traffic.

“People will stand on the brink of the curb or one step into the roadway as they wait for the walk signal to come. What difference does it make if you’re five steps back? If a car loses control suddenly, you have some buffer room to get out of the way.”

So be careful out there and refresh your memory with these pedestrian safety resources:

Pedestrian Safety in Parking Lots – from the BC Automobile Association

Watch where you’re walking
– from the Canada Safety Council

ICBC’s tips for parents and drivers in time for back to school

Walk This Way! Taking Steps for Pedestrian Safety – from the Centers for Disease Control


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