Walking is a fun and healthy activity that allows you to enjoy all your community has to offer. But as a pedestrian, you must be aware of the potential dangers of sharing the road with drivers who may not always see you.
In 2012, more than 330 people in Saskatchewan were injured and 18 were killed in pedestrian collisions with nearly 52% occurring at intersections. The causes of these collisions were varied but nearly 60% of them took place at intersections.
With these statistics in mind, it's time to revisit the do's and don'ts of pedestrian safety.
Defining a pedestrian
A pedestrian is a person who travels by foot, though people who use wheelchairs, motorized wheelchairs and medical scooters as a means of mobility are also included.
Though they usually use sidewalks and pathways, drivers must always keep a watchful eye for pedestrians because these routes often intersect streets.
As a safe driver you play a critical role in the safety of other road users, including pedestrians.
- When approaching an intersection, you must yield the right of way to any pedestrians crossing the street. Even if the pedestrian is coming from a street with a yield sign or stop sign, they still have the right of way.
- You must always yield to pedestrians at crosswalks, which can be anything from imaginary extensions of the sidewalk to painted markings on the road with safety lights. You must stop before the crosswalk and remain there until all pedestrians are safely across the road.
- The only exception to this rule is divided streets - you may proceed once pedestrians make it to the median at the centre of the road.
- Be alert when travelling in school zones because young children sometimes don't pay attention to oncoming vehicles. Be on the lookout for crossing guards and always obey all pedestrian signs and lights.
- Never pass another vehicle when it is stopped for pedestrians. You will have little time to react if someone crosses into your lane and the consequences of such a collision can be tragic.
- Be especially mindful of pedestrians when turning. Drivers often turn their heads to look for other vehicles and inadvertently ignore pedestrians crossing in front of them.
- Whenever possible, stay on sidewalks and pathways because these routes offer protection from vehicles. If you must walk on the road, travel on the shoulder of the left lane, facing oncoming traffic.
- Before crossing the street it is important to look left, then right and then left again to see any oncoming traffic. When the road is clear, proceed quickly in order to minimize your time on the road.
- Always try to cross the street at an intersection. Crossing in the middle of the road, or jaywalking, is extremely dangerous because drivers don't expect to see you there.
- Stay safe by obeying the Walk and Don't Walk signals at intersections. A blinking Don't Walk signal, usually indicated by an orange hand, means the traffic light is about to change. Wait on the sidewalk until the next cycle of lights and proceed when the white pedestrian symbol appears.
- Always be mindful of turning vehicles. Your legal right to cross the street doesn't mean that a driver automatically sees you. If possible, make eye contact with a driver before proceeding.
- Just like drivers, pedestrians are often distracted by technology. Remove headphones and avoid talking on cellphones when crossing the street. With your full attention you will be able to respond to hazards and avoid collisions with vehicles.
- At night, increase your visibility by carrying a flashlight and wearing bright and reflective clothing.