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During fall and winter in BC, diminishing daylight and challenging weather conditions become the norm. While residents are accustomed to the rain and snow, this period sees a surge in motor vehicle accidents, with pedestrians often caught in the crossfire.

Changing weather patterns result in traffic slowdowns and driver frustration, fostering aggressive behaviors like speeding, tailgating, and reckless lane changes. These actions not only endanger other drivers but also pose a significant threat to pedestrians on sidewalks and crosswalks.

Nearly 43% of pedestrian-involved crashes occur between October and January. Distracted driving and failure to yield the right-of-way top the list of contributing factors. This leads to the loss of 53 lives and more than 2,300 injuries on average each year, with many occurring during this four-month period. November stands out as one of the worst months, characterized by dark evenings, slippery roads, and diminished visibility.

– Lower Mainland: an average of 1,434 pedestrians are injured in 2,029 crashes annually.

– Vancouver Island: an average of 239 pedestrians are injured in 335 crashes each year.

– Southern Interior: an average of 158 pedestrians are injured in 216 crashes annually.

– North Central region: an average of 61 pedestrians are injured in 74 crashes each year.

Recognizing these risks, ICBC and local police forces have launched a comprehensive pedestrian safety campaign aimed at educating both drivers and pedestrians:

For Drivers:

  1. Stay focused on the road; never use your phone while driving.
  2. Watch for pedestrians, especially when turning at intersections, crosswalks, and transit stops.
  3. Reduce your speed in areas with pedestrians to reduce the risk of injuries or fatalities.
  4. Allow extra time for your commute to account for traffic and unexpected delays, giving you time to look out for pedestrians.
  5. Ensure your vehicle is prepared for adverse weather conditions, including functional headlights, properly inflated tires, working wiper blades, and topped-up wiper fluid.

For Pedestrians:

  1. Exercise caution at intersections and be alert to drivers making left or right turns across crosswalks.
  2. Always use crosswalks and adhere to pedestrian signs and traffic signals.
  3. Before crossing, scan your surroundings to ensure it’s safe and that traffic has come to a complete stop.
  4. Make eye contact with drivers, especially in poor visibility conditions, as never assume they’ve seen you.
  5. Remove headphones and put down your phone when crossing the road.
  6. Wear reflectors to enhance your visibility in rain, snow, dusk, and at night.

Remember, both drivers and pedestrians share a collective responsibility to ensure roadways and crosswalks remain as safe as possible. Approach crosswalks with caution and aim to establish eye contact, as accidents can happen in an instant.

In addition to these safety measures, Transport Canada has implemented various technologies and systems to enhance road safety, including electronic stability control, reduced heavy vehicle braking distances, and Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS). The ADAS industry, worth $27 billion, is projected to grow at a remarkable 12% annual rate, reaching $83 billion by 2030. These systems, equipped with features like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and blind spot detection, have revolutionized driving by significantly reducing bodily injury and property damage claims by 27% and 19%, respectively. They enhance safety during driving and parking, using cameras and sensors to alert drivers to potential hazards, preventing collisions.

Combining public awareness campaigns with technological advancements aims to make our roadways safer for everyone, ensuring that fall and winter are seasons characterized by caution and heightened safety.

Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at [email protected].