Pedestrian Perils

February 23, 2015

A significant number of crashes involving pedestrians have occurred that could have been easily avoided if more attention and care was exercised by pedestrians and drivers. The latest, “Canadian Motor Vehicle Traffic Collision Statistics: 2014” reveals that between the years 2008-2012, the total number of traffic deaths that involved pedestrians each year was between 12-15%. Walkers, along with cyclists and other riders, remain part of traffic’s most vulnerable road user groups.

Pedestrian collisions raise important points about walkers’ safety.

  • If possible, always cross at an intersection or pedestrian crosswalk
  • Stop … look … and listen; at night, or during times of low traffic volume, sound helps to identify oncoming vehicles
  • Do not wear headphones, as hearing is vital to your safe commute
  • Make eye contact with motorists so they know you are going to cross
  • Do not step out into the roadway until you are absolutely certain that the vehicles are stopping
  • If travelling at night wear reflective clothing or a flashing bicycle light
  • When a sidewalk isn’t available, always walk facing traffic




Know that if a pedestrian makes an error in judgment while walking and is struck by a car, the pedestrian always, always loses. Traffic statistics bear out this fact: a pedestrian can be “dead right” according to the rules of the road; however, she will sustain the full brunt of the impact, if she inadvertently steps out in front of a vehicle.


Contrary to popular conception, driver fatigue, not distraction, is leading cause of pedestrian crashes.

This traffic safety concern has only recently come on line as a serious problem in Canada. Even though many collisions occur during the daytime, drivers are usually tired. Every person has circadian rhythms, or a biological clock. Our circadian rhythms tell the body when it should sleep. Our biological clock dips twice a day: often in the afternoon between 1pm and 4pm and again in the morning between 1am and 5am.

Due to the dips in our circadian rhythms we feel fatigued. Many motorists know that it is unsafe to be driving during the hours that we should normally be sleeping. Yet, a significant number remain ignorant that many of the crashes that occur as a result of the fatigue, often happen in the middle of the afternoon. Consequently, this natural phenomenon is reasons for many single occupant crashes that occur in the middle of the afternoon with ideal driving conditions.

Traffic crashes are never monocausal; there are many factors that contribute to a collision. Both pedestrian inattention and driver error probably culminate with a multitude of other factors, which result in a crash. Do to the “you lose” reality of a pedestrian/vehicle collision, it is imperative that a person do everything possible to protect herself when walking in, around and near traffic.


(Photo by Gordon JolyCC BY)