ROTHENBURGER- Something’s got to be done about vehicle-pedestrian fatalities
An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
ONE WONDERS WHETHER people will ever learn about safety in crosswalks.
A 54-year-old woman was hit and killed by a truck at the intersection of McGill Road and University Way on Friday night.
Details provided by RCMP are so sketchy that the incident provides only a general reminder of what can go terribly wrong between vehicles and pedestrians.
We don’t even know for sure if this particular accident happened inside a crosswalk or whether the driver or the pedestrian was more the cause. We do know it happened after dark, when artificial lighting can make it hard to see.
There are far too many copy-and-paste headlines that read, “Pedestrian struck by vehicle in crosswalk.”
We all know safety in crosswalks is a joint responsibility between driver and pedestrian, especially at night. Pedestrians have to make sure they’re visible and that they have the walk light in their favour.
Drivers, on the other hand, have a duty to be especially careful at crosswalks, and even more careful if they’re turning at an intersection.
We know these things, and yet, people keep getting killed.
I heard an interesting interview recently about the “See Bike Say Bike” phenomenon. Basically, the theory goes, drivers at an intersection might see a motorcycle coming from a cross direction but forget it by the time they get to the point of collision. Scientists suspect the brain simply shuffles the bike into the background amidst all of the distractions of the road that over-write it.
By saying “Bike” out loud, the driver can help his or her brain remember it’s there.
I’d love to see a similar study carried out on driver-pedestrian interactions. Maybe it has relevance, maybe not, but something’s got to be done.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He writes five commentaries a week for CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at email@example.com.
In a case close to home, thanks to “densification”, there are visibility issues that may well lead to a pedestrian/motor vehicle conflict. In those cases, the pedestrian generally comes out the immediate loser.
It would be interesting to see the outcome of a civil lawsuit.
Hi Mel. Timely message. As you make some important observations, if I may comment on a possible followup. Recently, I had a similar experience at the intersection of Notre Dame and West Columbia early evening. Turning left onto West Col. a young person with a hoody over their head [no peripheral vision] and dark clothing [also light rain]. Even though I was going slowly, they were hardly visible until I was quite close. Even then what really alerted me to their presence was the backlight on their electronic device. The don’t walk light was displayed. Throughout all this they had no idea of their surroundings or seemed to care. With this in mind, a couple of suggestions.If the Walk Light displays Don’t Walk then Don’t Walk, it;s that simple. HI VIS-We need to impress upon our kids and others reflectorized armbands-legbands etc. that wrap around so they can be seen from all directions. Even in the daylight, there is some research to support a greater impact on the brain of the visual aspect of flourescent vests, armbands etc. and higher impact colours such as bright green and orange. Most major jobsights, industries, contractors etc. now employ these valuable measures to help increase safety. As you have public influence, perhaps another reminder on your editorials would help in this regard. Also, perhaps a suggestion to CFJC’s Midday to have RCMP’s Corporal Shelkie on again to touch base on this. If possible, perhaps some approved HI VIS accessories could be talked about and maybe the time has come for these items to be provided free to those that are interested from the RCMP, City or Gov’t. One prevented fatality or serious injury would pay for the cost of Health Services, not to mention Human cost to those involved. Lastly-Perhaps a Public Service Message on not just the above but something called:SITUATIONAL AWARENESS.to both pedestrians and drivers on various forms of Media.. You touch on this with your “See Bike, Say Bike” suggestion. You have to be aware of your surroundings. LOOK AROUND. It’s the responsibility of both drivers and pedestrians. If not, it’s not a matter of being involved in an incident but when. Perhaps, intermittent reminders by Radio, TV etc. may help in this endeavor.
If City Hall was run by cyclists, walkers or people truly into an alternative way of life we would have a continuous, methodical augmentation of strategies designed to curb reliance on motor vehicles. Crosswalk and sidewalks designs and placement, road speeds, enforcement, traffic cameras, public transport, etc. I resigned myself to the fact I will never see a noticeable switch away from road mayhem in my lifetime.