Watch where you’re Walking

You see it all the time, people walking down the street talking on the phone, texting, or using some other electronic gadget, and not paying attention to where they are walking. Perhaps you do this yourself, and now that the weather is warmer, you may be more inclined to walk outdoors. Distractions while you are walking, especially in high traffic areas, may put you at greater risk of getting into a collision with a vehicle.

Injuries to vulnerable road users are often the most severe, especially those involving pedestrians. It is the pedestrian who suffers, not the vehicle, and often has tragic results. Vulnerable road users – pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists – make up 24 per cent of road users killed or seriously injured each year in traffic crashes. Pedestrians make up the largest group of victims among vulnerable road user casualties, accounting for 56 per cent of fatalities and 50 per cent of those with serious injuries.

Children and adults alike need to be aware of their surroundings. In many cases it is not the driver’s fault. It is the responsibility of both driver and pedestrian to ensure each other’s safety by following some simple rules.

Pedestrians should:

  • Obey the rules of the road – cross at intersections or in pedestrian safety zones, and not in between parked cars.
  • Be vigilant at both intersection and non-intersection locations, especially in urban areas.
  • Look up from phones and other electronic devices when crossing the street, and turn the volume down on headphones.
  • At a traffic light, cross at the beginning of a green light. Do not cross once the “Don’t Walk” signal begins to flash or once the light has turned to yellow.
  • Make sure drivers see you before you cross.
  • Walk against traffic along roadsides without sidewalks or on rural roadways.
  • Wear bright or reflective clothing when walking, especially at night.
  • Never assume that motorists will yield, even if you have the right-of-way.

Motorists should:

  • Always be on the lookout for, and yield to vulnerable road users, even if they don’t have the right-of-way.
  • Always be aware of pedestrians, especially when turning.
  • Always obey traffic signals and control signs.
  • Pay particular attention to younger children playing on streets and to senior citizens crossing at intersections.
  • Pay particular attention to workers in temporary work zones.
  • Stay alert and slow down through residential streets and school zones.

Teach and reinforce the rules of the road to your children before they begin walking to school, to a friend’s house, or to a nearby store. Stress the importance of walking on the inside of the sidewalk, or where there are no sidewalks, as far away from the road as possible. Remind children to always make sure that the driver sees them before starting to cross the street.

Canada Safety Council urges pedestrians to be conscious of their surroundings. Take safety into your own hands. Don’t assume because it’s your turn to cross that drivers will stop for you. Only cross when it is safe.