The “most wonderful time of the year” could be close according to the Christmas carols floating about shopping malls, but we are already into the most dangerous time of the year on our streets.
The end of Daylight Saving Time — in the majority of the nation — and the coming of authentic fall weather have created a perfect storm that will almost surely increase the amount of car-on-car and car-on-pedestrian events on Canada’s roads.
Let’s count the ways:
- You will find the reduced hours of daylight, meaning there are fewer hours when motorists and pedestrians can easily find each other.
- There is the time shift, which not just tends to upset people’s circadian rhythms and make them less mentally sharp, but also signifies that the always-fraught-with-peril evening rush hour is largely in darkness.
- Falling leaves added to those other decreasing things — snow, rain, sleet — that make the streets slicker.
- Those glowing summer wardrobes are replaced with dark clothes. Not only does this make them harder to see, but matters like hoods and toques added to earbuds and cellphones unite to detach pedestrians even farther from their surroundings.
“November … has traditionally been the month when pedestrians are involved in the most crashes,” Toronto Police traffic services constable Clinton Stibbe states.
Although studies have produced varying results on the time change’s role in road safety, there certainly seems to be a link.
A 2007 American study revealed that people walking during rush hour following the return to standard time were greater than twice as likely to be killed by a car than before the shift. The most dangerous time of the day was after 6 p.m., it revealed.
But most of us can not avoid driving, walking or biking at the moment, so motorists, cyclists and pedestrians will need to be extra cautious.
It might sound somewhat Elmer the Safety Elephantish, but it is largely a matter of slowing down and taking more care.
“There’s been plenty of focus on which pedestrians do wrong,” says Teresa Di Felice, Director of Government and Community Relations for the CAA, pointing to a recent proposal to create distracted walking prohibited in Toronto. “But the simple fact is that most these collisions aren’t the pedestrians’ faul”
A recent report revealed that in Toronto, 41 percent of pedestrian-vehicle collisions occurred at intersections — most frequently when the pedestrian had the right away. Furthermore, 46 percent of those 28 pedestrian fatalities in Toronto this season involved seniors.
“The ultimate responsibility falls on the driver to be aware and assess their environment,” Di Felice says.
She offers several tips on how to protect yourself and others:
- Wear lighter clothes or put in a few reflective strips to your backpack or briefcase to improve visibility when walking. Cyclists need as many reflective strips and lighting as you can.
- Take additional care when driving, slowing when coming high-traffic locations and double-checking prior to turning.
- Try to make eye contact with drivers when crossing an intersection.
- Pay attention to automobile maintenance, especially brakes and tires. Check your tire pressure regularly, ensure that your windshield washer fluid is topped up and your wipers are in fact wiping.
- Take additional care when nearing home. “People become more complacent when they are in familiar territory, whether they are walking or driving,” she says. “We know the area and let down our guard a little. That complacency can make an incident.”
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Courtesy: The Globe And Mail