“Look the driver in the eye!”
That’s what I taught my three sons to do when they were learning to cross the street.
Yes, cross at a marked crosswalk. Yes, wait for the light to change. No, don’t assume the drivers are going to obey the signals. Look them in the eye to make sure they see you and are really going to stop.
New statistics from the City of Edmonton’s Office of Traffic Safety prove that mother knows best: Of the 298 collisions that involved pedestrians in 2013, 192 or 60.6% happened when pedestrians had the right of way.
That means those pedestrians were at an intersection with a full traffic signal, a pedestrian-activated crossing signal, an amber flashing light, in a marked pedestrian crosswalk or at an unmarked crosswalk.
Even this wise old Mom finds those numbers shocking.
Sadly, a marked crosswalk can’t keep pedestrians safe if drivers aren’t paying attention. Having the right of way is no protection. And there’s no sense being “right” when your opponent is 1500 kilograms of steel and glass. You are not going to win that argument. Those 298 pedestrian-vehicle collisions in 2013 took the lives of six Edmontonians and injured 311 people.
The statistics show that this is actually the most dangerous time of the year for pedestrians on Edmonton streets. Forty-five of the 298 collisions happened in September last year. By comparison, there were only 12 collisions between vehicles and pedestrians in April. September, October and Nov ember combined account for 34 percent of all pedestrian collisions for the year.
It’s a combination of driver and pedestrian behaviour, road conditions, and the changing seasons:
Now that my boys are older and learning to drive, I think it’s time for some new lessons from Mom about how to watch out for pedestrians. I’m getting tips from the City’s Heads Up campaign for both pedestrians and drivers.
I’ll remind them to pay attention behind the wheel — no checking their cell phones, even at intersections. Watch out for other cars slowing down, because they may see a pedestrian that you don’t see yet. Be aware of pedestrians who may be pushing the limits of their “right of way” by walking before or after their walk signal.
And most importantly, look the pedestrians in the eye!