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Stay Alert: Your Essential Guide to Pedestrian Safety

Stay Alert: Your Essential Guide to Pedestrian Safety

When it comes to pedestrian safety, drivers and pedestrians share the responsibility in following the rules of the road. According to statistics compiled by the Toronto Star using police and media reports, there were 46 pedestrian deaths in Toronto in 2018 alone. This exceeds the number of combined pedestrian and cyclist fatalities recorded in any year in a police database that dates back to 2007. Other major Canadian cities tell a similar tale with Calgary and Montreal both seeing a rise in pedestrian deaths and injuries. According to the Calgary Herald, at least one person is struck by a vehicle on Calgary’s streets every day. In Montreal, more pedestrians died on the city’s roads in 2018 than in the five previous years.

New driving laws were introduced in Ontario in 2016 to help address these types of incidents at pedestrian crossovers and school crossings. Following this, cities such as Hamilton, London and Toronto introduced “Vision Zero” road safety plans to help improve road safety and reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities. While most provinces have similar rules for the road, make sure you check with your provincial laws.

Sergeant Brett Moore of Traffic Services – Toronto Police Service advises:  

“Road safety is always a shared responsibility between road users, but drivers hold the highest level of responsibility when it comes to reducing injuries. Way too often the person who is injured is a vulnerable road user. The goal of Vision Zero is to eliminate all collisions, especially the collisions that injure people. We know that getting to safer roads is definitely through road design, education and enforcement of traffic laws, but these things will not get us to zero fast enough. We need to convince people that drivers who reduce or eliminate speed, distractions, aggressiveness and drive sober are safer drivers. The difficult thing is convincing people to change behaviour and to consider how bad driving habits lead to preventable injuries.”

Follow these tips to help keep you and your family safe:

Pedestrian safety tips:

  • Stop, look and listen for traffic – that means avoiding all distractions like talking on the phone, texting and listening to music (especially with headphones or earbuds) while walking.
  • Obey traffic signals and signs:
    • Cross at designated crosswalks and only on a green light.
    • Never try to beat a yellow or red light.
    • Do not cross if the “Do not walk” symbol is showing.
    • Stop on the centre median, if you’ve started to cross the street and the light turns yellow.
  • Make eye contact with drivers to ensure they see you before you cross the street.
  • Walk; do not run across the road.
  • Wear bright clothing during the day and reflective clothing at night, so you can be spotted easily.
  • Walk on the inside edge of the sidewalk away from the road to be further away from traffic.

Special tips for child pedestrians:

  • Look all ways before crossing the road.
  • Know the meaning of traffic signs.
  • Stay alert, especially between 3 to 6 p.m. when leaving school, and when drivers are leaving work. This is when most pedestrian accidents occur.
  • Cross the road with an adult if you are 10 years of age or younger.
  • Always cross at a crossing light or crosswalk and never run across the street, or jaywalk.
  • Do not cross between parked cars as drivers will have a more difficult time reacting if they can’t see you.
  • When boarding and disembarking school buses:
    • If you must cross in front of a school bus, use the sidewalk to walk at least 10 feet in front of the bus before crossing, and be sure the driver sees you first.
    • When disembarking, step onto the sidewalk and stay at least 10 feet away from the bus.
    • Never walk or play behind the bus as it can begin moving at any time.
    • If you drop something near the bus, do not pick it up yourself. Ask the driver to pick it up when safe to do so.

School kids crossing street

For more tips, see our infographic on “keeping kids safe around cars.”

Driver safety tips:

  • Watch for pedestrians, especially if you are making a turn. Don’t’ forget to use your signal and make eye contact with pedestrians.
  • Don’t speed up to go through the intersection on a yellow light. Come to a complete stop at a red light.
  • Drive carefully near bus and streetcar stops as passengers are getting on and off.
  • Be patient if you see a senior or someone with a disability crossing the road, as they need more time to cross.
  • Back out of your driveway safely. Don’t rely on your vehicle mirrors or cameras. Turn and look behind your vehicle to see if any anyone is behind you.
  • Slow down to give yourself more time to stop, especially when it’s raining or snowing.
  • Drive cautiously and slowly in school safety zones and residential areas:
  • Stop when the crossing guard enters the roadway and has the stop sign in an upright position. Remain stopped until the children and crossing guard have safely cleared the road.
  • Never pass a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk.
  • When turning at an intersection, check to make sure there are no pedestrians.
  • Give yourself extra space to stop in case a pedestrian suddenly crosses the street.
  • Know that fines for offences at pedestrian and school crossings and crosswalks vary by province. In many provinces, fines are doubled in community safety zones.

Remember, awareness is key no matter how you get around. A little common sense and good judgment can help everyone safely share the road.

Any tips we missed? Let us know in the comments below.