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Put the Odds on Your Side

May 14, 2014 | Campaigns, National Road Safety Week, Vehicle & Road Safety

All kinds of people use roads to get where they need to be, but a lot of them don’t have seatbelts, air bags or several hundreds of pounds of metal keeping them safe.

This National Road Safety Week, May 14 – 19, the Canada Safety Council is aiming to raise awareness that vulnerable road users make up a disproportionate amount of traffic collisions and deaths, most of which are entirely avoidable.

In 2011, the most recent year where data is available, vulnerable road users accounted for more than a quarter of traffic fatalities according to Transport Canada. Pedestrians accounted for about 16 per cent of that number, while the other 11 per cent was split between bicyclists (2.6 per cent) and motorcyclists (8.4 per cent.)

Responsibility lies with both the vulnerable road user and the motorist in ensuring their mutual safety.

Vulnerable road users have to be aware of their surroundings at all times, taking extra care to follow the rules of the road.

Pedestrians should cross the road only at designated crosswalks and intersections only when the way is clear. Breakdowns of incident causes are only available between 2004 and 2008, but the statistics show that more than 60 per cent of fatal traffic crashes involving pedestrians happened while they were crossing a road. Of these deaths, only 10 per cent came when the pedestrian had the right of way to cross at an intersection.

A disproportionately high number of collisions among cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists alike happened due to a lack of visibility or at night. Wearing bright colours, retro-reflective bands and lighting, if necessary, could help make sure they see and is seen.

Responsibility also falls on drivers and their reactions.  One recurring problem is distracted driving, specifically as it relates to smartphone use and texting. Vulnerable road users are already harder to see than the average vehicle, but a divided attention span from the driver only amplifies the problem and shaves seconds off the driver’s reaction time.

Texting while driving makes a crash or near-crash 23 times more likely than if the driver weren’t sending a text message. If the phone buzzes while you’re driving, you don’t have to answer it immediately. It can wait.

The Ottawa Police Service, Safer Roads Ottawa and Algonquin College, also in Ottawa, teamed up to produce public service announcements to demonstrate how quickly a fatal accident can happen when a driver takes their eyes off the road. You can see their work at the following link:

Whether you’re a driver, a pedestrian, a motorcyclist, a cyclist or any other kind of road user, share the road. It may help save your life.


For more information, please contact:
Raynald Marchand
General Manager, Canada Safety Council
(613) 739-1535 (ext. 226) 

Lewis Smith
Communications/Media Program Coordinator, Canada Safety Council
(613) 739-1535 (ext. 228)