THE BC Coroners Service is urging both pedestrians and motorists to take extra care in the wake of five deaths of elderly pedestrians at intersections during the past 11 days.
In four of the five cases, the pedestrians – who ranged in age from 73 to 87 years – were struck by vehicles which were making left-hand turns. (In the fifth case, the vehicle was going straight through the intersection.) Two of the incidents took place in Vancouver, and one each in New Westminster, Kelowna and Oliver.
The deaths are in line with a recent review by the BC Coroners Service of 142 fatal pedestrian incidents which occurred from 2010 through 2012. The review showed that persons over the age of 70 were at more than double the risk of dying in a pedestrian incident than those in any other age group. It also showed that in cases where pedestrians were crossing at an intersection on a green light, more than two-thirds of the drivers who struck them were making a left-hand turn.
The need for extra care increases in the winter months when longer hours of darkness and frequent poor road and weather conditions lead to an increased number of pedestrian incidents. The review showed that more than one-quarter of the deaths took place in January and February.
Safety tips for pedestrians:
* Enhance your visibility, especially after dark. Wear light-coloured or fluorescent clothing, or attach a light or a reflective strip to your clothing.
* Stay alert. Watch out for drivers turning into an intersection from left and right. Try to make eye contact with all nearby drivers before stepping out onto the street.
* Don’t assume a crosswalk or a green light at an intersection makes you safe. Ensure drivers see you before you step out from the curb.
* Especially if you know you may be slower in crossing a road, give yourself the most time to cross by waiting for a newly turned green or walk signal.
* Look left, right and left again before crossing the street, and be on the lookout for turning or backing vehicles.
* Keep scanning for vehicles as you cross.
* Hold your hand up or do whatever it takes to make yourself more visible to drivers.
* Stay alert. Don’t be distracted by activities that take your mind off driving or your eyes off the road. Watch carefully for pedestrians when approaching any crosswalk or intersection.
* Ensure all pedestrians have cleared the road before proceeding.
* Take special care to watch for pedestrians or other vulnerable road users when making a left-hand turn.
* Watch especially carefully for the elderly or mobility-challenged. Recognize it may take them longer than average to complete a safe crossing.