Pedestrians it’s time to be alert on our roads
It’s time to fall back. It’s time to be alert on our roads. Pedestrians, for you, the darker days of November are particularly perilous. It might be obvious to say it, but your visibility is automatically lower to drivers at night.
When daylight savings time ends, we gain an hour of sleep, but it shifts daylight hours. Sunrise and sunset times are earlier. When the time changes on November 4, 2018, sunset is just after 5 pm. That means afternoon rush hour for many people is done at dusk or in the dark. Even children coming from after school activities might be walking home when the street lights come on.
The annual time change is a factor which makes November and December the most vulnerable months for pedestrians.
We have examined some of the causes and solutions in our 3-part crash course in road safety. Now we seek small, practical steps all road users can take to prevent pedestrian and cyclist injury on our streets.
It might sound like common sense, but because the Vision Zero programs do not seem to be working, it can’t hurt to remind everyone now is particularly an important time to be alert. All of us can be part of the solution by being a little extra cautious when our days are darker.
Because risk is highest for those on foot, we first chose to look at some things pedestrians and parents can do.
At risk of sounding like your mother…pedestrians, we’re asking you to cross with traffic signals and use crosswalks. Children should use the assistance of the everyday road heroes: crossing guards. If your street doesn’t have a crossing guard, push the button to activate the flashing yellow lights. Take the extra step and try to make eye contact with drivers before you set off across the street. On busy multi-lane streets, pay attention and be alert as you make your way across. Sometimes you are not visible because vehicles are blocking sight lines.
Even if it is a small inconvenience, take the time to walk an extra block or two so you are at a controlled intersection or crosswalk. And people, for the sake of cyclists and drivers, please don’t jay walk or dodge between cars. Finally, distracted walking is a thing – we have all seen the goofy videos of people walking into poles, people and parked cars because their phone captured all of their attention. Don’t be one of those people.
You may have pulled dark coats out of the closet as temperatures fall. You may have pulled your hood over your head and put on mittens and boots to stay warm. At risk of sounding like a out of touch fashion blogger, we think less daylight should be the season to wear your brightest accessories. Neon rocks! The 80s are back! (actually retro 80’s are a trend – ask your kids). If neon isn’t your thing, try a light coloured scarf or hat.
Parents need to be the fashion police, especially for young children who walk to and from school, or get to school by bus. Many brands of kids outerwear have reflective zippers or tape details. Backpacks are a perfect place to dangle LED clips or add reflective patches. While you are at it, may we suggest you put one on your own coat, hat, or handbag too? You and your pooch can be seen better with a high-visibility collar, leash or coat.
The whole family and even the family pet can make a brilliant fashion safety statement.
Watch your step
Colder temperatures also means sidewalks and roads get more slippery under foot. Its time to pull on the footwear with traction. Yes, we know (again) thick soled boots may not make the fashion statement you want. But spraining your ankle, or sliding down a steep sidewalk is not worth it. One of our fashion insiders tells us Baffin Boots are a good bet. They have solid soles, are warm and weatherproof. They have some great colours and have sizes for the whole family.
Come along, in our next post, we will look at what cyclists can do to stay safe on shared roads. And, stay tuned, we are testing some easy-to-attach reflective items…until then, take the time to be alert.