Dark days need caution

If the number of pedestrian deaths in the Lower Mainland over the past few weeks seems unusual, it’s not.

Since November 13 people have died on B.C. streets. Many more have been injured, most notably the two runners who were mowed down in a Surrey crosswalk while wearing reflective gear.

On average 63 pedestrians are killed in the province each year. More than 2,000 are injured.

According to the BC Coroners Service, 25 per cent of those deaths occur in the two months of December and January.

“The research shows clearly that we are just heading into the most dangerous time of year for pedestrians,” says chief coroner Lisa Lapointe.

Seniors are most at risk, the service says. And being in a crosswalk is no guarantee of safety. (Forty percent of pedestrians killed in 2009-10 were in a crosswalk.)

With the darkest days of winter still to come, it’s important that both motorists and pedestrians be extra careful. Here’s what the coroners service recommends:

Safety tips for pedestrians:

• Enhance your visibility, especially after dark. Wear light-coloured or fluorescent clothing, or attach a light or a reflective strip to your clothing.

• Stay alert. Watch out for drivers turning into an intersection from left and right. Try to make eye contact with all nearby drivers before stepping out onto the street.

• Don’t assume a crosswalk or a green light at an intersection makes you safe. Ensure drivers see you before you step out from the curb.

Safety tips for motorists:

• Stay alert. Don’t be distracted by activities that take your mind off driving or your eyes off the road. Watch carefully for pedestrians when approaching any crosswalk or intersection.

• Ensure all pedestrians have cleared the road before proceeding.

Following these tips won’t guarantee safety. But care and caution in the weeks ahead will lessen the likelihood of a tragedy in Chilliwack, like we’ve seen in so many other communities this year.

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