Cross walk sign for pedestrian road safety

The “Pedestrians: What Do We Know?” fact sheet, developed by Robyn D. Robertson, Traffic Injury Research Foundation, contains an overview of the pedestrian safety issues in Canada. It summarizes the latest statistics in relation to the number of pedestrians killed and injured each year, describes high-risk groups of pedestrians, and key factors that contribute to pedestrian collisions. It also reviews common characteristics associated with pedestrian collisions, the types of drivers involved in these collisions, and ways that pedestrians and drivers can better protect themselves on the road.

According to the report, almost 9,000 pedestrians were killed and hundreds of thousands were injured in Canada in road collisions between 1989 and 2009 – slightly more than 300 pedestrians per year. Transport Canada conducted an analysis of pedestrian collisions and revealed that 60% of pedestrians killed in traffic crashes were trying to cross the road. The total number of pedestrians killed on Canada’s roadways each year are declining; however, deaths amongst pedestrians remain stagnant.

Why are pedestrians more likely to be killed or injured in collisions? 

It has been estimated that pedestrians are 284 times more likely to be killed or injured in a collision than motorists because they lack the hard, protective exterior of a vehicle, or safety features to protect them. Pedestrians are smaller and less visible, especially when they are jaywalking or when weather affects visibility.

Older pedestrians are at an increased risk because of mobility issues and declines in vision, hearing and perceptual skills. Younger audience are also at an increased risk due to less developed cognitive, visual, and auditory senses and their smaller size. Distraction is a growing concern for pedestrian and road safety.

What can drivers do to promote pedestrian road safety? 

The severity of the injuries to a pedestrian who has been struck depends on the vehicle speed at the point of impact. When pedestrians are stuck at 50km/h, they are 8 times more likely to be killed than if they are struck at 30km/h. Pedestrians have a 50% chance of survival at speeds of 40-45km/h.

-Yield the right of way to pedestrians

-Do not be driving distracted

-Do not drive impaired

-Get enough sleep

-Follow the speed limit

-Signal when turning or pulling out or in

-Enable vehicle safety technology functions in your car (i.e. rear-view pedestrian camera)

-Keep your automobile properly maintained (i.e. working lights, working brakes, proper tires)

What can pedestrians do to promote pedestrian road safety?

Pedestrians are responsible for their own safety. Here are some ways to protect yourself:

-Obey traffic signals

-Cross only at marked crosswalks and traffic lights

-Do not cross the street distracted

-Be alert to all traffic, especially turning vehicles

-Steer clear of hedges, parked cars and other obstacles

-Do not jay-walk or rush into the street

-Avoid travelling on foot while intoxicated

-Do not begin to cross the road when there is not enough time to make it safely across

-Wear light coloured or reflective clothing when walking at night or in the rain

-Be aware of road conditions

What can policy makers do to promote pedestrian road safety?

There are many ways for members of the community and policy makers to make the road safer for pedestrians, such as:

-Adjusting speed limits in accident hot spots

-Creating physical separation between pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicle traffic

-Creating a bridge or underpass for major roads or highways

-Making pedestrian traffic lights longer in areas with more senior citizens

-Providing education on pedestrian road safet

-Sharing stories about pedestrian road safety or near-misses

-Enable patrol programs in schools

To view the detailed Community-Based Toolkit for Road Safety Campaign , please click here.

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