Sooke News Mirror
A survey released by ICBC has revealed that nine out of 10 drivers worry about hitting a pedestrian at night, particularly in wet weather.
At the same time, 8 out of 10 pedestrians don’t feel safe in these same conditions.
To help address the situation, the provincial government and police are launching a pedestrian safety campaign across the province to raise awareness of the dangers represented by the increased hours of darkness combined with reduced visibility due to our rainy winter.
“I cringe when I see see people, especially young people, dressed in dark colours with no reflective material whatsoever walking along the roadside on a rainy night. They seem unaware that they are making themselves very hard to see and that could lead to them being badly injured or even losing their life,” said Staff Sargent Jeff McArthur, Detachment Commander of the Sooke RCMP.
“There is all kinds of reflective safety gear out there these days and it only makes sense to wear it if you venture out on a dark, rainy night.”
That same message is part of what the ICBC campaign is trying to get across, and ICBC and community policing volunteers will be handing our reflectors and safety tips in high pedestrian traffic areas across the province to help pedestrians stay visible.
The other aspect of the safety equation is, of course, the behaviour of the drivers.
The ICBC radio and on-line advertising targets campoaign is largely targetting drivers, cautioning them against distracted driving and urging them to be extra vigilant. The ads point out that 43 per cent of all pedestrian related crashes and injuries happen between October and January; a disproportionately high number of occurrences.
Every year in B.C. an average of 59 pedestrians are killed and 2,500 are injured.
The ads also indicate that the majority of pedestrian crashes occur at intersections as pedestrians cross the street, not realizing that an approaching vehicle may not see them in a crosswalk.
“It’s important for drivers to slow down and be extra vigilant at this time of year,” said McArthur. “It’s a matter of assessing your own abilities as a driver and slowing down to the point where you are confident that you can pick up peripheral objects.”
For some drivers, added McArthur, that self assessment should result in deciding not to drive during certain conditions. For some older drivers who don’t feel confident after dark in the rain, or for drivers who’s vision may have deteriorated this may be a reasonable, responsible course of action.
“Most people are pretty good at realizing their own limitations,” he said.
According to McArthur, this is also a time of year when front seat passengers may have a role to play in keeping a look-out for hard to see pedestrians.
“A passenger can be helpful in those kinds of conditions an drivers should never take offense at the help offered by a passenger. It could make the difference between seeing a pedestrian or not.”