It’s up to us to ensure our safety as pedestrians
By Aidan Mouellic, Staff Writer
Close to Douglas College’s New Westminster campus is a pedestrian crosswalk that crosses Eighth Avenue. During a dark and rainy evening last week, I was driving down the street approaching the crosswalk, when a large number of students began to make their way across. Like everyone else on the road, I consider myself to be a good driver: I drive at safe speeds, never use a handheld device, and rarely have distracting passengers. Because of this, I was able to sort of see the people crossing the road and stop to let them cross.
If I had been engaged in sinful and illegal driving habits such as texting, talking on a phone, or applying make-up, then perhaps those pedestrians would have been hit. In a scenario such as that, the driver would legally take all the blame, but pedestrians still need to take precautions. The pedestrians I saw crossing the road seemed to think they were invincible. None of them made eye contact with me, and most of them were wearing dark clothing underneath their dark umbrellas. When walking around town, we all have the right to be safe, but our safety isn’t guaranteed. We all have to take appropriate measures to ensure that all road users are safe.
For drivers, it’s pretty simple. Drive at a speed that will allow stopping in an effective manner at all times of the day; this is sometimes below the posted limit when the weather isn’t ideal. Also, don’t use your phone while driving. If you’re tempted to take selfies or update Twitter on the road, then please put your cellphone in the trunk during trips. The goal here is to make the roads safe. If not using your cellphone while driving will impact your social life, just think about what being dead will do to it.
For pedestrians, staying safe while out walking is a bit more complicated. During the day, visibility is less of an issue, but it’s still crucial for drivers to see you. Always make eye contact with them when crossing a road; it’s not a guarantee that they’ll stop. I never cross a street until all the cars have stopped. I’ve seen distracted drivers fly through reds too many times to take the chance.
At night, things are especially sketchy for pedestrians: drivers have limited visibility, are more prone to fatigue, and are often in a rush to get home. The best way to increase safety while walking at night is to wear bright and reflective clothing; anything to get the attention of drivers is paramount.
Pedestrian safety is a two-way street. It’s up to the road users and foot traffic to ensure that both parties stay safe. Drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicles in a safe manner, and pedestrians have the responsibility to take care of themselves and not trust drivers.
Together, we can help keep each other healthy, safe, and happy during these cold, wet, and dark months.