Recently, Road Rules has reminded readers about the increased risk for both pedestrians and drivers at this time of year. Fewer daylight hours and wetter weather make for invisible pedestrians—especially when dressed in dark clothing—and for blinded drivers—especially when wet nights make the roads reflective. Downpours only add to the dangers. Windshield wipers, one of the greatest safety features ever invented, despite their refinement from “swinging arm with a rubber blade” —they start automatically, are variable and adjustable—still have intervals. Blinded drivers and invisible pedestrians are a recipe for disaster and, hence—our reminder and (see below) police warnings.
Despite these efforts, however, on Saturday, November 28th, in six separate collisions in Vancouver, one man was killed, two women were seriously injured, and four other people were injured. Reports described the number of incidents as “alarming.” The police reportedly described the number as “the worst ever” and “beyond frustrating …sad.”
They happened as follows: at 41st and Oak at 4:04 pm, at Homer and West Pender at 5:19 pm, in the 300 block Prior Street at 5:25 pm, at East 49th and Elliot at 8:12 pm, at Burrard and Burnaby at 9:18 pm, and at Kingsway and Knight at 9:39 pm. On Prior Sreet, the scene of the fatality, a 77-year-old man was killed while crossing mid-block with his wife. At the time of writing, his 72-year-old wife remains in hospital in critical condition. On Homer Street, a 65-year-old woman was hit by a transit bus and suffered serious leg injuries. Reports say that all of the drivers involved are cooperating. Alcohol and speed have not been cited as factors in the Prior Street fatality or, thus far, in any of the others. Of Prior Street, the police have said, “At this point in the investigation it appears that it was nothing but a very tragic accident.”
The day before these events, the Vancouver Police Department had issued a safety warning. Citing the statistics for 2009—eight pedestrian fatalities—and noting this was slightly lower than the same time last year, it expressed “cautious optimism” that “we will end 2009 with no more loss of life in pedestrian accidents.”
The warning contained the following (paraphrased) tips for pedestrians:
- Be visible. Wear bright or light-colored clothing, preferably with reflective material.
- Focus on what is happening on the road by removing your headphones and putting away your cell phone.
- Don’t obstruct your view with your umbrella or hat or hood.
- Don’t assume that drivers see you, even if you are in a crosswalk. Make eye contact with drivers so you know you see each other.
- Use designated crossings and follow all pedestrian traffic signs and signals.
…And the following for drivers:
- At intersections, always yield to pedestrians.
- When approaching an intersection, be alert and scan left and right for pedestrians, especially if you intend to turn.
- Slow down and be ready to stop. A vehicle stopped ahead of you or beside you may be yielding to a pedestrian.