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Pedestrian Safety

According to recent studies done in Nova Scotia and Toronto, the number of crosswalk collisions have been raising. In Toronto, at the end of 2013, pedestrian fatalities reached a 10-year high, with 39 people killed in the city as of December 20th, 2013. Twenty-two of these people were over 65-years-old. In the US, a 2013 study noted a 50 percent spike in pedestrian deaths between 2005 and 2010 due to increased distraction from cell phones or other devices. Canadian researchers have also noted this effect in regards to increased cell phone use.

In order to reduce the number of fatalities, many localities have enforced stricter traffic laws for motorists, and some have implemented smarter street design. However, we must also pay attention to the behavior of pedestrians, who need to exercise safety and caution as well. According to a report done by the Province of Ontario, a significant percentage of pedestrian deaths are caused by pedestrian distraction (by a device, a dog, or even pushing a shopping cart), pedestrians crossing against the signal, and pedestrians crossing at mid-block locations at uncontrolled crossings where pedestrians must wait for safe gaps in traffic to cross.



Here are some life-saving tips:


  • Cross at designated crosswalks and always with the light, if there is one.

  • Look in all directions before entering the crosswalk, and keep scanning until you reach the other side. 

  • Don’t blindly follow other pedestrians.

  • Check for turning vehicles and cyclists before you step off the curb and while you are crossing, even if there is a “no turn on red” signal.

  • If your view of approaching traffic is blocked by a stopped car or anything else, wait until you have clear visibility of what might cross your path.

  • As you cross the street, make eye contact with drivers to be sure they see you. You can also give a friendly wave.

  • When crossing, don’t talk or text on a cell phone or use any electronic device for any purpose. Keep your ears tuned to the traffic around you, not to music on your device—or at least lower the volume and use only one earbud.

  • Watch for driveways and entrances to parking garages where vehicles cross over the sidewalk. Look both ways for vehicles that may be entering from the street or exiting from the garage. Also be alert when walking in parking lots, where cars are backing up and turning from all directions.

  • If streets are not well lit at night, wear light-colored or reflective clothing to increase your visibility—or carry a flashlight.

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