Opinion: Let’s be careful out there

The holidays are meant to be a happy time. Don't let a traffic accident or injury spoil that.

It’s a familiar refrain this time of year.

No, not the holiday wishes.

Rather, the plea to motorists and pedestrians to take special care while they’re on the streets.

This week two pedestrians died in separate incidents in the Lower Mainland.

They join a stark and growing statistic: Every December in B.C., an average of seven pedestrians are killed and another 269 are injured.

The dark rainy weather, slippery streets and poor visibility all conspire to make driving more difficult.

There’s little we can do about that. But what we can do is make the extra effort to see and be seen.

ICBC has a few suggestions. They’re made every year, but they’re worth repeating.

To motorists, remain attentive at all times. Not only is it illegal to use a hand-held device while driving, the consequences can be deadly.

Pay particular attention around intersections where 75 per cent of all pedestrian incidents occur. Watch while turning left or right for pedestrians who have already begun to cross.

And remember that the rain makes the roads more slick. So build in a bit more braking time.

For pedestrians, never assume that just because you see the vehicles, their drivers see you. Headlights, traffic and other distractions compete with your visibility. Fight back by ensuring you are dressed to be seen; wear reflective clothing, a reflective arm band, or carry a light.

Keep your eyes and ears open and focus on what’s happening around you. That means pulling out your headphones, or putting the phone away while crossing a busy street.

But the most important point is to never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact and always err on the side of caution; the consequences of an accident are far graver for the pedestrian than for the driver.

The holidays are a hectic time of year. We all have places to be and things to think about.

But they’re also meant to be a happy time; don’t let an accident or injury spoil that.