Every year an average of 52 pedestrians are killed and 2.400 are injured by collisions in B.C. These incidents typically take place at night or when visibility is poor. While there is no law requiring that pedestrians take steps to make themselves more visible to drivers in times of low visibility it simply makes sense to protect yourself when crossing or walking along the road.
Pedestrians need to remember that they must not walk on the roadway if a sidewalk is present. If there is no sidewalk, they must walk on the left facing oncoming traffic. It may be dangerous, but you are entitled to use both the extreme left edge of the roadway or the shoulder. Of course, if the shoulder is available, you would be foolish to insist on using the edge of the roadway or traffic lane.
Drivers must exercise due care to avoid collision with a pedestrian who is on the highway. Remember, a highway includes both the extreme left edge of the roadway and the shoulder.
Just as drivers are required to take reasonable care to anticipate apparent potential hazards arising even from irregular or illegal conduct on the part of pedestrians, pedestrians must take reasonable care to anticipate equivalent conduct on the part of drivers. The duties of drivers and pedestrians are symmetrical; each owes an equivalent duty; Liston v. Striegler.
What’s the best way for a pedestrian to be seen while walking at night? Light coloured clothing? A traffic vest? The right answer is “none of the above.” If you really want to be safe the buzzword is Biological Motion.
Reflectors at shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist, knees and ankles are noticed three times further away than a person wearing only light coloured clothing. The motion of the reflectors appears to be readily identifiable by drivers as a pedestrian’s movements and are eye catching. It is said that an observer can even judge if the wearer of the reflectors is a male or female just by studying their motion.
If you are going to be walking on or beside the highway at night, consider purchasing and using reflective banding for your clothing. It’s a small price to pay to avoid becoming a statistic.
-- Tim Schewe Road Safety Advocate DriveSmartBC.ca
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