Representatives from The Toronto Police and Traffic Services have had to step up public awareness of basic safety issues after 16 pedestrians have been injured in only 2 days. The most regrettable accidents are the ones that could easily have been avoided, and this particular rash of incidents points to many small factors that are entirely within the control of Pedestrians. So once again, we need to look at a problem from the point of view of personal responsibility, before we can start to fine tune the external factors that would help alleviate traffic and safety issues for everyone…
So Where Does the Trouble Start?
Police remind us that there’s usually a jump in the number of pedestrian-related accidents this time of year, right after the change to daylight savings time when people are becoming accustomed to the darker evenings. The recent spate of cold, rainy, blustery weather also has people wearing heavier (often darker) clothing, that not only makes them less visible to others, but might also affect their own personal vision of things around them as well. This weather also has people rushing more recklessly across roads more often in an effort to get out of the elements.
Toronto Police Sgt. Tim Burrows said that Pedestrians “may sacrifice their own personal safety by not taking that extra precaution of stopping, looking, listening — the good basic safety principles that protect us all.”
Pedestrian Tim Brown reminds us that “You have to be aware of your surroundings so I have to rely more on my eyes when I’m walking around with headphones on. At the end of the day, everybody is responsible for their own safety,” he said. “I don’t think there’s anything the police can do to make it any better.”
So this terrible rash of accidents should at least serve as a tragic reminder of what can happen when people become too caught up in their inner lives to remember to be clear and present in the bigger world out there around them…
So rather than trying to find fault in all the safety measures and traffic rules all around us, we need to be reminded that personal safety starts with personal responsibility. There are so many things that we simply can’t afford to forget about when we step out onto the roads…
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the less obvious aspects :
- Headphones completely disable the function of your second best safety equipment, by making you incapable of sensing oncoming dangers outside, or even at the edge of your field of vision. Your ears are your early warning system, and you can’t afford to stay tuned out of the real world around you
BTW: City Cycling with headphones on defies all self-preserving logic.
- Jaywalking just isn’t illegal because it interferes with safe traffic flow, it’s also a deadly habit that leads to most pedestrian fatalities.
- When a crosswalk signal starts to flash the “Don’t Walk” signal…this is the WORST time to jump out into an intersection to try and cross at the last second, because late lights are when cars are also trying to get through the congestion at intersections before the light changes, and this rush is always a dangerous mix. A flashing “Don’t Walk” sign means DO NOT ENTER the INTERSECTION!
- Personal visibility to Motorists and Cyclists is key. Never presume that others can see you, because by the time they do, it will be too late.
- Umbrellas and sunglasses in low light are a liability that keep you from seeing things clearly.
- Automobiles take a long distance to come to a safe stop, and alot of energy to get moving again, but it takes a Pedestrian only a moment to pause and let a car roll through or make a turn. The benefits of a tiny slice of patience should be clear to anyone, and the shared rewards would be enormous for everyone everywhere if traffic were able to flow abit better.
- Eye contact is the very best way to assure everyone’s safety. If you can make contact with the people around you, not only will you’re own safety level rise, but everyone around you will feel abit better as well.