Pedestrians, protect yourselves when walking at night

Pedestrian safety at night

Every year, an average of 52 pedestrians are killed and 2,400 are injured in collisions on B.C. roads.

These incidents typically take place at night or when visibility is poor. While there is no law requiring pedestrians to take steps to make themselves more visible to drivers in times of low visibility, it simply makes sense to protect yourself when crossing, or walking alongside, a road.

Pedestrians need to remember they must not walk on the roadway if there is a sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, they must walk on the left, facing oncoming traffic. It may be dangerous, but you are entitled to use both the extreme left edge of the roadway or the shoulder.

Of course, if the shoulder is available, you would be foolish to insist on using the edge of the roadway or the traffic lane.

Drivers must exercise due care to avoid a collision with a pedestrian who is on the highway. Remember, a highway includes both the extreme left edge of the roadway and the shoulder.

Just as drivers are required to take reasonable care to anticipate apparent potential hazards arising even from irregular or illegal conduct by pedestrians, pedestrians must also take reasonable care to anticipate equivalent conduct on the part of drivers.

The duties of drivers and pedestrians are symmetrical and each owes an equivalent duty.

What's the best way for a pedestrian to be seen while walking at night? Light coloured clothing? A traffic vest? The right answer is "none of the above." If you really want to be safe, the buzzwords are “biological motion.”

Reflectors at shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist, knees and ankles are noticed three times further away than a person wearing only light coloured clothing.

The motion of the reflectors appears to be readily identifiable by drivers as a pedestrian's movements and are eye-catching.

It is said an observer can even judge if the wearer of the reflectors is a male or female just by studying their motion.

If you are going to walk on or beside the highway at night, consider buying, and using, reflective bands on your clothing.

It's a small price to pay to avoid becoming a statistic.

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.

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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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