Pedestrian traffic is a common sight year-round, even on snowy days when the mercury dips and the wind howls. As a driver, it's important that you stay alert to help ensure everyone arrives at their destination safely.
Sadly, failing to watch for foot traffic - even for a moment - can have tragic consequences. On average in Saskatchewan, 3 people are killed and nearly 100 are injured each year in wintertime pedestrian collisions.
As a driver
Pedestrian and vehicle collisions can be avoided by following a few simple tips:
- Match your speed to the road conditions, even if it means driving slower than the posted speed limit. That way you can maintain control of your vehicle and have ample time to stop.
- Constantly scan the road for potential dangers. Be especially cautious when blowing snow or heavy plumes of exhaust impair your vision.
- Be vigilant. The biting cold forces pedestrians to bundle up with toques and scarves, which narrows their peripheral vision. They might not see your vehicle until it's too late, so it's crucial that you stay alert.
- When you do stop for pedestrians, understand that it takes time to cross icy streets safely. Give pedestrians the time and space they need, and don't proceed until they've completely cleared the road.
As a pedestrian
Pedestrians must take ownership over their own well being by following basic safety rules:
- Stay on sidewalks whenever possible because they 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, you must look left, then right and then left again to see any oncoming traffic. Give drivers enough time to stop in icy conditions and, when the road is clear, proceed as quickly as is practical to minimize your time on the road.
- If possible, 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. This is particularly true when snow is piled high on curbs and medians.
Children at play
Snow piled high on curbs and medians is dangerous for kids. Children should never climb these mounds because they risk tumbling onto the road, giving motorists little or no time to react.
As a driver, you need to be cautious if you see kids playing near the road. By slowing down and staying alert, you'll help everyone make it safely into spring.