Kelowna RCMP out with volunteers, ICBC to promote pedestrian safety

Community policing volunteers spreading message to be aware and make eye contact before crossing roads.

Kelowna community policing volunteer Mel Lillies talks about pedestrian safety with Theresa Shaver while RCMP Cst. Jesse O'Donaghey listens in during an RCMP pedestrian safety blitz near Orchard Park mall on Wednesday.

Officials of the Kelowna RCMP, its municipal traffic section and ICBC have partnered to promote pedestrian safety in Kelowna.

Officers and volunteers with the Kelowna RCMP, along with officials and volunteers with ICBC hit the streets at Harvey Avenue and Cooper Road to interact with pedestrians, cyclists and drivers on Wednesday to promote overall road safety and raise awareness around the important topic of pedestrian safety. Officials and volunteers distributed ICBC reflectors to both pedestrians and cyclists. Officials also handed out information pamphlets to pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.

“Crashes with pedestrians spike dramatically in fall and winter as the weather changes and daylight hours decrease,” said Christine Kirby, local ICBC road safety coordinator. “When you’re walking, make eye contact, wear bright and reflective clothing, and stay focussed on the road. When you’re driving, take extra time to look for pedestrians before turning, avoid distractions and be ready to yield.”

With longer days and better weather bringing more people outside, the number of incidents between pedestrians and vehicles is on the rise, said police.

“Police have noticed that increase of pedestrian involved collisions these past several months, not just in Kelowna but all across the Province, at times resulting in the loss of too many valuable lives.” says Cst. Jesse O’Donaghey, Communication Officer of the Kelowna RCMP. “We want to do our part in educating the public in our community at every possible opportunity in hopes of preventing another unnecessary loss of life,” adds O’Donaghey.

The following statistics are established according to ICBC and police data based on the five year average from 2009 to 2013:

•In B.C., 75 per cent of crashes involving pedestrians occur at intersections;

•In the Southern Interior, 51 per cent of crashes involving pedestrians occur at intersections.

•In B.C., on average, 58 pedestrians are killed and 2,400 injured in crashes every year.

•In the Southern Interior, on average, 12 pedestrians are killed and 240 pedestrians are injured in crashes every year;

•In B.C., nearly one in five (18 per cent) people killed in car crashes are pedestrians.

•The top contributing factors for drivers in crashes with pedestrians are: distraction, failure to yield to right of way and weather (for example: fog, sleet, rain, snow);

The following are tips for:

Pedestrians:

•Make eye contact with drivers as it’s hard to see pedestrians when visibility is poor in fall and winter. Never assume that a driver has seen you;

•Focus your full attention on the road and traffic around you as drivers may not stop or obey traffic signals;

•Remove your headphones and leave your phone alone while crossing the road;

•Wear bright and reflective clothing or gear to make it easier for drivers to see you especially in wet weather, at dusk and at night;

•Before you start to cross, look left and right for oncoming vehicles and make sure vehicles in all lanes are fully stopped. Then look left and right again for vehicles while you’re crossing;

•Be careful at intersections. Watch for drivers turning left or right through the crosswalk. Drivers may be focused on oncoming traffic instead of also scanning for pedestrians in the crosswalk;

•Always cross at designated crosswalks, not mid-block. Follow pedestrian signs and traffic signals and don’t cross on a yellow or red light;

•On roads with no sidewalks, walk facing traffic so that you can see oncoming vehicles. Make yourself visible to drivers by wearing bright and reflective clothing, and consider using a flashlight

Drivers:

•Focus on the road. Always leave your phone or any other hand-held electronic device alone while you’re driving

•Be ready to yield to pedestrians – especially when turning in intersections and near transit stops

•Look twice for pedestrians before turning especially in fall and winter when visibility is poor;

•Give yourself extra time and space to stop in case a pedestrian suddenly crosses the street

Transit users:

•Make sure that you’re visible when you’re walking to and from your transit stop. Wear bright and reflective clothing or gear so drivers can see you in all weather conditions

•Be cautious at transit stops. Avoid running for the bus and taking shortcuts. Always cross at designated crosswalks, not mid-block.