Advancing autumn weather conditions have local safety officials warning residents to be extra cautious behind the wheel and on foot.
“Both drivers and pedestrians need to be more diligent this time of year, when there is less daylight and the roads are becoming wet and icy,” said Township of Langley traffic safety coordinator Ineke Schuurman. “As the days get shorter and the weather gets worse, visibility deteriorates and it is harder for cars to stop. We all need to be even more careful than normal.”
When on the road, she said, do not assume that other people see you, especially in the early evening or early morning, and don’t assume they will stop, even if you have the right of way.
Pedestrians should wear reflective gear, or at least light-coloured clothing, to increase their visibility this time of year and always use designated crosswalks or intersections. Jay-walking, walking between parked cars, and crossing the street mid-block is never advisable, but it is an especially bad idea when it is dark out.
“Taking an extra minute or two to walk to a designated crossing point could save your life,” said Schuurman.
And while motorists must think of every intersection as a crosswalk and be alert for those on foot, it is not a licence for walkers to just step right out in front of oncoming vehicles – even if they are in a crosswalk.
“Pedestrians have the right-of-way in crosswalks and drivers are required to stop,” Schuurman said, “but that doesn’t guarantee safety, or ensure that cars are going to stop. What if the driver doesn’t see you? What if the road is wet or icy and you haven’t given them enough time to brake? Common sense has to prevail.”
Pedestrians should stand at the curb edge and wait until all traffic has stopped, make eye contact with drivers, and look left, look right, then left again before proceeding.
According to ICBC, each year an average of 2,700 pedestrians are injured in car crashes in BC. To help encourage safety on Langley roads this fall, ICBC offers the following tips:
To be a safe pedestrian:
• Always focus your full attention on what’s happening on the roadway so you can see, hear, and respond safely when you’re crossing the street. Removing your headphones and putting away your cellphone or other gadgets can make a difference.
• Make eye contact with drivers, so you both see each other.
• Always be cautious and pay attention to traffic. Drivers may not always stop or obey traffic signals.
• Use designated crossing points and follow pedestrian traffic signs and signals.
• Before stepping off the curb, look left and right for oncoming vehicles. Then look left again for vehicles that may be turning onto the roadway from beside or behind you.
• Wear bright or light-coloured clothing. When the sun starts setting or in bad weather, wear reflective material on your clothes (sleeves, shoes, cap, or jacket).
• Where there are no sidewalks, always walk on the left side of the road facing traffic.
To be a safe driver:
• Always yield to pedestrians at intersections. You don’t want to break the law.
• Be alert and scan left and right for pedestrians when you approach any intersection.
• If a vehicle is stopped in front of you or in the lane next to you, they may be yielding for a pedestrian, so be prepared to stop.
• Be aware of pedestrians who seem unsure or who may not be paying attention. They might dart out or wander onto the roadway.
• Always watch for pedestrians when you’re backing up.
• Before you get into your vehicle, make it a habit to walk around it to ensure no small children are behind your vehicle.
At pedestrian crosswalks:
• All pedestrian crosswalks operate the same whether or not they have flashing lights. Drivers are required to stop once someone has entered the crosswalk.
• The flashing lights help alert drivers that pedestrians are crossing or want to cross the street.
• The lights do not guarantee that vehicles will stop. It’s important that drivers and pedestrians make eye contact with each other.