166343
163558
Behind-the-Wheel

How not to get hit by a car

I read an article recently about conspicuity for police officers working on the highway. It suggested that the reflective vests and jackets that we use to stand out and be identified by drivers at night were not very effective. A driver had to approach closely when using low beam headlights to see a reflection, and the reflections that were seen did not immediately suggest that what the driver was looking at was a pedestrian.

The problem with low-beam headlights is that they initially illuminate the area of a pedestrians feet and by the time they reach the mid and upper body, it is too late for the driver to react to what they are seeing.

Tests in a driving simulator produced an even more surprising result. Sixty percent of drivers who were warned that a pedestrian would appear during the simulation failed to see them on the roadway in time to avoid colliding with them. Often drivers report that the first indication that they had of a pedestrian being present on the highway is when they heard the sound of the collision with them.

Looking at the view from the pedestrian's perspective, researchers found that pedestrians all felt that they were more visible to drivers than they actually were.

From Neil Arason's book No Accident: Eliminating Injury and Death on Canadian Roads:

An Australian study found that drivers noticed only five percent of plain-clothed pedestrians in the most challenging conditions (low beams, black clothing, glare), whereas they recognized 100 percent of pedestrians who wore reflective clothing in areas where their body moved.

The bottom line? If you are a pedestrian on the highway at night, wear something light coloured with reflective markings in the places that your body moves such as wrists and ankles. Biological motion is very effective protection.

Use the sidewalk, or if a sidewalk is not present, stay as far to the left of the roadway as possible. These rules cover all pedestrians in British Columbia.

Never cross the highway unless you can clear the travelled portion well before the approching vehicle nears you unless you are certain that the driver will stop. Better still, wait until the driver sees you and has stopped.

If you are a driver that is purchasing a new vehicle, consider one with forward collision warning or automatic emergency braking. These systems, properly used and maintained will help you avoid crashes.

Walk to stay alive. Regardless of being right or wrong in terms of right of way, the pedestrian is always the loser in a collision.

This story originally appeared on DriveSmartBC



More Behind the Wheel articles

162848
About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC



165269
The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories



165214


165962