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How to Be a Responsible Pedestrian

August 25, 2021

How to Be a Responsible Pedestrian

Road safety is a two-way street between the drivers and pedestrians. Before becoming a driver, people need to sign up for driving lessons, which at the very least educates them about road safety. However, pedestrian safety can easily be overlooked.

Statistics show that in a car accident, pedestrians are 200 times more likely to be injured or killed. Children under 14 years of age and younger make up a large part of pedestrian deaths in Canada. Fortunately, the death toll has decreased. However, long-term disabilities caused by car accidents are still prevalent. To avoid any future pedestrian accident, follow these road safety tips.

Safety Tips

No matter who you are, no one is exempted from the dangers of the road. With an exponentially increasing population and more cars on the streets, this threat grows even larger as each day passes. To ward off these unfortunate events, here are some daily reminders for pedestrians:

  • Avoid going out when under the influence of alcohol or substance

Avoid drinking when you intend to walk along the streets

Drunk people are dangers on the road, whether they’re drivers or pedestrians. If you intend to walk by roadside traffic, you should try to avoid alcohol, even if it’s “just” a bottle of beer or a shot of vodka. Drinking alcoholic drinks can severely affect your cognitive abilities, impairing your judgement.

As it slowly enters your bloodstream, alcohol molecules can pass through the blood-brain barrier and wreak havoc. Since your digestive system has a harder time processing liquor, this “dumbing down” effect is gradual and you might end up not noticing it at all, which makes it more dangerous.

Your prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for rational thought, will have a harder time responding to stimulus as your behavioural centres are blocked. Alcohol inhibits these neural pathways, slowing down your reactions to various situations. In a 2016 report, Canada has the highest rate of alcohol-related vehicle deaths among wealthy nations.

  • Walk on designated areas

The pedestrian overpass and pedestrian lanes were designed to keep people safe while on the road. Make sure to use them as they were intended. While rush hour can make these designated walking areas seem inconvenient or far away, you must not forget that they are there for your safety. Since licensed drivers are educated to respect the right of way of pedestrians who use these walkways, you can increase your security.

When using these safe spaces, try to obey traffic control signs as strictly as possible and avoid jaywalking. However, the problem begins when there are no pedestrian lanes and overpasses. If you are ever in this situation, cross on a part of the road that is well-lit and has a large gap in traffic. It is important to remember though that there are certain roads that you can’t cross, such as freeways, flyovers, and interstate roads.

  • Avoid distractions

Sight, sound, and touch are important senses in pedestrian safety. If any of these senses are compromised or impeded, your accident vulnerability increases. Usual activities that may hinder your senses include listening to music, talking on the phone, texting, reading, or wearing dark-tinted glasses. Preoccupied pedestrians are more prone to suffering road injuries since their spatial awareness is heavily affected.

  • Focus on Situational Awareness

Paying attention to what is in front of you is already a given in any activity. When it comes to pedestrian safety, staying alert and being aware of your surroundings is a must. Since drivers can be prone to distractions, it is important that you too should also be aware of the road.

Before crossing, pause and look both ways to see any incoming traffic. Listen to any car signals, and make eye contact with the drivers to let them know that you intend to pass.

An added piece of advice is assessing the road situation that you are in. Driver perception and alertness can be heavily affected by what time of the day it is, the amount of light and noise on the road, and the number of pedestrians. All these different factors can affect the driver’s attention and awareness. So, to guarantee your safety, try to put yourself behind the wheel and imagine how you would look to them as they drive.

  • Be Visible

Wear light or neon-coloured clothing at night

Neon signs and fluorescent clothing have been used by road construction workers to alert drivers of any street detours and debris. This same concept applies to pedestrian safety.

Being seen by drivers is not a daytime problem, but vision can be compromised during nighttime on roads that lack adequate lighting. To avoid any accidents during the night, try wearing light-coloured clothing that reflects more light or cross in parts of the street that are well-lit.

  • Report faded road signs and other hazards

Installing a pedestrian light or a pedestrian crossing sign is a legal obligation for any government. However, these precautions only work, if you, as a citizen, are following them. Huge metropolitan cities like Toronto regularly update their road signs, because as it becomes faded they become harder to see and understand.

However, the government cannot take note of every sign that needs updating. You can do your part by reporting damaged or faded signs in your vicinity.

Educating Children Regarding Pedestrian Safety

Pedestrian safety for kids is a distinct aspect of road security. Because of their smaller build and much more limited movements, children are less noticeable than adults. Unaccompanied by adults, they might panic and get scared when crossing the street. So, as a parent, how can you ensure the safety of your child? Well, educating your children will depend on which age range they are in:

  • Ages 4 to 6

Educate children regarding road safety as early as 4 years old.

Explaining road safety to a 4 to 6-year-old child should be done as simply as possible. You can start by telling them that they shouldn’t cross the road without an adult. Tell them that they should hold your hand at all times, and teach them the meaning of different road signs.

If there is a button to be pushed at a crosswalk, remind them to always push it. However, no matter what the case, children in this age range should always be supervised.

  • Ages 7 to 9

Children at this age now have a better grasp of how the world works and they can understand complex safety rules. This is the time to explain to them the concept of using your senses on the road. Tell them to use their eyes and ears to assess the situation. At this age range, they should still be supervised at all times.

  • Ages 10 and above

Pedestrians often have right of way

At this stage of child development, reasoning abilities and decision-making skills have developed. Instructing them about road safety at this stage should be a combination of independent and supervised discipline.

If your child’s route is close to your home, you can walk them through that path and instruct them on what to do. After that demonstration, you can let them go on their own a couple of times, but still, reinforce these precautions by taking them to other places.

Pedestrian Right of Way

Pedestrian safety is a major consideration in road design. So, if you’re asking “do pedestrians have the right of way?” The answer is yes! Under the Highway Traffic Act, pedestrians who are crossing as reasonably quickly as they can have the right of way.

Another common question, is jaywalking illegal in Canada? Technically speaking, crossing any road when there is no present pedestrian lane is not illegal. However, it can be an offence when you become a traffic obstruction.

Some pedestrians might abuse this jaywalking leniency rule and heavily disrupt the traffic flow. It is during these times that their right of way no longer takes precedence over that of vehicles. As a practice in some cities in Canada, like Toronto, drivers are trained to provide a leeway of 7 seconds in every intersection for any pedestrian. However, there can be times that this unspoken rule can be quite confusing. So, what should you do in different road crossing situations?

If there is a marked pedestrian lane, use it at all times. If a police officer is regulating the traffic, wait and follow their signal. However, in times when there are no crosswalks or signals available, the pedestrian can still cross, while still keeping in mind the traffic flow. Jaywalking is not a formally recognized traffic offence. However, any form of it should be done as responsibly as possible.

Whether you are driving or walking, safety on the road is a top priority. A good tip to remember is to either put yourself behind the wheel or in the pedestrian’s shoes. This way, you can have a better understanding of the situation. Road accidents happen when signals are misread and communication lines are blurred.

To avoid any tragic cases, use designated spaces, follow traffic rules, and be aware of your surroundings. Communicate through body language and listen to any verbal cues done by the driver. Being a responsible pedestrian doesn’t only ensure your safety but also the drivers’ on the road.

Unfortunately, accidents can still happen due to unforeseen factors. If you have been involved in a vehicular accident, you need an automobile accident lawyer to help you get the fair compensation you deserve.

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