The evenings are getting shorter and the temperatures are dropping across the province, as colder weather takes hold in BC. According to ICBC, 44% of crashes involving pedestrians happen between the hours of 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. from October to January, making winter a particularly treacherous time.
Everyone has a role to play when it comes to staying safe on our roads. Whether you’re walking to work, the grocery store, or to a local restaurant, it’s important to take extra safety precautions during this treacherous time of year. And if you’re traveling along our roads on two or four wheels, lives depend on you doing so defensively.
To avoid crashes of any kind – safety starts with you.
Dr Chris Rumball, an emergency doctor in Nanaimo BC, says given that pedestrians are far more likely to die from a car crash than the occupants in the car - do the safe thing and be visible, be sensible.
The brighter, the better - Foggy, damp weather means poor visibility, and street lighting alone is not enough to ensure you are seen by even the most careful drivers. So ensure you wear reflective and bright clothing during the winter period and consider carrying a flashlight at night.
Be aware - When walking down the street, and especially when crossing to the other side, keeping an eye on traffic is crucial. Remember that wet roads mean cars cannot stop as quickly. Looking up from your phone and removing headphones at intersections – simply paying attention to your surroundings is a vital part of staying safe.
Natural hazards - Poor weather conditions will adversely affect your surroundings. Be on the lookout for flooding, downed power lines, icy patches, or windblown trees and branches. Get up to date information from your local municipality website before setting out.
Senior safety - Seniors are at a particularly high risk of falling – even more so when conditions are sub-optimal. But there are some additional things everyone, at any age, can do to mitigate a fall such as wearing ice grippers on your footwear and using pointed walking sticks.
Be observant - With grey, foggy afternoons and dark, rainy evenings extra vigilance is needed when on the lookout for pedestrians as they will be less visible than in the brighter spring and summer months.
Drive slower - Take extra care when driving around schools where children might be running around, and in residential areas where seniors and others might be out for a walk.
Be obvious - And cyclists, make sure you are visible to other road users by using reflective gear and bike lights. Remember to shoulder check, and use hand signals to indicate your next move.
BC’s doctors hope these winter safety tips will help make our roads a safer place for pedestrians and other users.
Doctors of BC has created a pedestrian safety poster for physicians to post in their offices featuring tips on staying safe when out and about, as well as branded, reflective armbands for patients to wear. If you are a physician and would like to take part, please complete this form and we will send them both to you.