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Behind-the-Wheel

Pedestrians, pay attention—even if you have right of way

Watch where you walk

A man I observed in a parking lot started me thinking about how little care we sometimes take for our own safety when we are pedestrians.

I was preparing to back out of my parking spot and put my truck in reverse. Then I scanned to the rear before letting up on the clutch. The man crossing behind me did not slow down, or even bother to look to see what my intentions were. Perhaps he didn't notice my truck was idling and the backup lights were on.

The most recent collision statistics published by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia are for the year 2020. The provincial five-year average, ending in 2020, shows 2,400 pedestrians were injured and 52 died in collisions.

One might guess children were most likely victims due to being impulsive and inexperienced. But that was not the case. The majority of fatalities involved pedestrians over the age of 50. Older pedestrians were also in the majority when the injured were counted as well.

Why is this happening? Contributing factors on the pedestrian side included making an error, being confused, being under the influence of alcohol and failing to yield the right of way. On the driver's side, it was being inattentive, failing to yield the right of way and making an error or being confused.

I walked part way to work recently and encountered a woman leaving a driveway I was about to cross. She noticed I checked my stride and was making eye contact before I moved into her path. She must not be used to this as she called to me and told me I didn't need to worry, I could cross and she wouldn't hit me. I appreciated the communication and was confident that I could pass in front of her safely.

The underlying idea here is that a pedestrian has to take responsibility for his or her safety, even if it means giving up your right of way to an inconsiderate or inattentive driver. Keep your head up, make eye contact and never move from a place of safety unless you are absolutely certain a driver has seen you and presents no threat of collision.

You may also want to consider not using items that draw your attention elsewhere, such as music players and cell phones when you are walking on a highway.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



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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



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

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