Rainy fall weather, dark roads and dwindling daylight hours can be tough on the nerves.
It’s unsurprising then that ICBC reports collisions with pedestrians spike significantly in the fall and winter, just as visibility between drivers and pedestrians is highly reduced.
Of course, one of the ways to avoid becoming a human plow or someone’s bumper decoration is to be aware and visible to your surroundings.
“Being visible, using crosswalks, using the lights … but don’t just rely on those, make sure that you are watching the incoming traffic,” said Sooke RCMP Cpl. Joe Holmes. “If you’re seen, that’s a good thing, but actually being seen is another.”
Holmes highlighted that eye contact between the pedestrian and the driver is critical to ensuring that one will yield to another (even though drivers are mandated to yield to pedestrians first).
Reflective clothing and a flashlight are recommended, especially when venturing around Sooke’s long dark stretches of sidewalk-free roads and streets.
There are other ways of increasing that visibility even further, added Colleen Woodger, ICBC road safety coordinator.
“When there’s no sidewalk like in a rural road in Sooke, you want to make sure that a pedestrian is walking facing traffic,” she said, adding that the reason for that is they have a better chance of seeing where that car is going and being seen.
Woodger pointed out one in five people killed in car crashes in B.C. are pedestrians, and about 70 per cent of those crashes involving pedestrians happen at intersections.
“They’re watching for that light to change, for incoming cars, but when they go to take their left, they don’t scan for the pedestrian walk light,” she said, noting pedestrian safety is a collaborative effort between those crossing and those driving, not just one or the other.
“It’s a shared responsibility to be safe on the road, it’s not just drivers, it’s not just pedestrians, they need to work together and do their part,” Woodger said. “We need to put our phones down, take our headphones off when crossing the street, and be focused on what’s going on in that intersection.”
This week, Sooke Mounties and Citizens on Patrol will distribute reflectors in the community at particular high foot traffic locations such as transit stops in the town core.
The initiative is a collaborative effort between the RCMP and ICBC to both raise awareness of pedestrian safety and provide visibility to those traveling through Sooke.