DSC_4685Surrey: The days are short, darkness and rain make for poor visibility for both drivers and pedestrians. In the photo above, the person in the crosswalk is barely visible in the headlights, heavy rain and reflection from the road. And since most winter clothing is dark, the chances of a person not being seen by a driver, even in a crosswalk, are very high. Don’t become an accident statistic!

In BC, on average, 58 pedestrians are killed and 2,400 injured in crashes every year. One in four of those are between 16 and 25 years of age. Across the Lower Mainland the numbers are 33 killed and 1,700 injured. In Surrey it’s 6 killed and 300 injured. About 82% of accidents with pedestrians are in intersections, many occurring while cars are turning left.

According to Karen Klein, ICBC’s Road Safety Coordinator for Surrey and White Rock, the three major reasons are: not being visible, not being attentive, and not making eye contact with drivers.

Be seen

Right way to Dress in Rain“At this time of year we have a tendency to dress in dark clothing,” says Klein,. “Dress to be seen, wear light-coloured and preferably reflective items, carry a white reflective umbrella and a small flashlight.”

To be even more visible visit the shops that sell running and biking gear. They have many reflective items from reflective straps to go around wrists, cuffs or pant-legs, to clothes with reflective highlights, to LED lights. Many of these items can also be found at safety clothing stores. In the torrential rains of last week, one pedestrian on King George Boulevard had hand-held flashing led lights, which he activated every time he crossed a street or driveway – brilliant!

Klein said that when she walks her dogs she wears a safety vest and carries a flashlight. Safety vests are light-weight, fold away easily, are highly visible and cost about $22.

Pay attention

“Pay close attention to what’s going on around you,” said Klein. “Unplug your earphones and get your eyes off your cell phone. We see a lot of people texting while walking, not watching where they’re going.”

In bad weather many pedestrians may have limited focus, staring straight ahead, or head down against the wind, hunched into their collar, umbrella (often black) held close to the head obscuring vision, and hurrying to get out of the weather or to catch a bus. Be deliberate in your movements, and be even more careful if you’re tempted to make a dash to catch a bus.

Make eye contact with drivers

“There’s a lot going on in intersections,” said Klein. “I believe 82% of crashes with pedestrians are in intersections, with many occurring when left-turning drivers, watching for the gap in traffic, make the turn without checking for pedestrians.”

You need to be watching what the vehicles around you are doing, or are about to do. When a car is about to turn, proceed cautiously. Ensure that the driver has seen you by making eye contact. If you can’t connect, perhaps it would be better to wait.

Stay alert and check out ICBC for more tips on staying alive.

By Ray Hudson