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Behind-the-Wheel

Be safe, be seen

You would think that the most likely pedestrian to be struck on our highways would be a child.

They are impulsive, may not follow the rules because they don't know them, and have not yet had the experience to fear the outcome of a bad decision.

If you do think this is the case, you would be wrong. The most likely age group to be involved in a pedestrian collision is, in order of the number of accidents:

  • 26-35 year olds
  • 36-45 year olds
  • 46-55 year olds.

These three age groups account for three of the seven pedestrians struck on B.C. highways every day and pedestrians account for 14% of Canadian traffic fatalities.

Old enough to know better? You would certainly hope so.

According to ICBC, 57 pedestrians are killed and 2,600 are injured each year in collisions, with 78% of incidents happening at intersections.

Yes, the laws say that vehicles and pedestrians each "own" their allotted portions of the highways and must look out for each other.

This doesn't always happen, so drivers and pedestrians alike need to take more care during the twilight and hours of darkness to stay out of each others way.

Pedestrian safety depends on the ability to be seen. This can be a challenge as most pedestrians think that they are much more visible than they really are. Being over confident of your conspicuity can lead to taking risks where you cannot win.

While the courts have decided that a pedestrian might choose to dress in black without being negligent, they must factor the ability to be seen by others into their decisions when they are on the roadway.

One cannot depend on light-coloured clothing for protection during periods of low light.

Studies have shown that pedestrians dressed in black with small reflectors at ankles, knees, hips, wrists, elbows and shoulders are recognizable, and avoidable, well before a pedestrian dressed completely in white with no reflectors.

This phenomenon is known as biological motion.

An interesting consideration is that low-beam headlights are aimed to the right to keep out of the eyes of approaching drivers. You will not be as well lit while walking from left to right across the front of a vehicle.

Perhaps the best defensive attitude for a pedestrian is to always assume that drivers cannot see you.

When the paths of drivers and pedestrians must cross, be sure that you are well aware of each other and communicate your intentions to avoid a collision.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/pedestrians/be-safe-be-seen

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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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