In the past five weeks, there have been 13 pedestrian fatalities across the province.
Due to the high number of pedestrian deaths in the province the B.C. Coroners Service reminds motorists and pedestrians to take extra precautions to make sure there are not more pedestrian deaths.
However, according to B.C. Coroners Service spokesperson Barb McLintock, the Peace Region has avoided a large amount of pedestrian fatalities.
“The North actually has the lowest pedestrian death rate of the whole province… I’m sure if we looked at drivers that you’d have a different answer because usually when we do stats, the north region is quite high for actual drivers, but it’s low for pedestrians,” said McLintock.
In fact, during the four-year period that the coronary service looked at from 2009 to date, both Dawson Creek and Fort St. John have not had any pedestrian incidents.
“I’m looking at Dawson Creek and Fort St. John... there’s zero, you’ve done very well,” she McLintock.
While there were a few deaths in the Peace Region, it seemed as though 2011 was the only year that had any pedestrian deaths.
Charlie Lake it had one in 2011, Fort St. James had one in 2011, Hudson’s Hope had one in 2011, according to McLintock.
Although the Peace Region does have low pedestrian fatality numbers, it’s still important that drivers and pedestrians take the time to be aware of their surroundings and prevent a tragedy from occurring.
Fort St. John RCMP Cpl. Jodie Shelkie explained that distraction because of electronic devices can still be a problem for both drivers and those crossing the street.
“While there’s distracted drivers because of cell phones, there’s also distracted pedestrians and so people are talking more on their cell phones and listening to their... iPods and things like that and people need to practice safe walking and not be distracted and be looking for vehicles,” said Shelkie.
The coroners service has found that two of the main problems that can result in pedestrian death are poor visibility and both pedestrians and drivers not paying attention.
“It’s very interesting because we did look at the sort of standard advice really doesn’t apply a lot of the time. The main thing that it seemed to come down to were two things, one of which was visibility for pedestrians especially after dark and in poor weather. Make sure you’re not wearing all dark clothing, either wear something bright or reflective,” said McLintock.
“The other one is just for both pedestrians and motorists to be very alert. We looked at things, for example where speeding vehicles a big cause of pedestrian death, and the answer was no,” explained McLintock. “Was impaired driving a big cause of pedestrian death? No. So some of those standard high risk factors for other types of car crashes didn’t apply in these pedestrian deaths and it seemed to more a case of drivers and pedestrians not seeing each other until it was too late,” explained McLintock.
It’s especially hard for those trying to cross the street to anticipate a turning vehicle.
“For pedestrians, check drivers that might be turning left or turning right onto your street because that’s one of the most common problems – about 30 per cent of all the crashes occur when the driers are making a turn, so they don’t see the pedestrian until the last minute,” noted McLintock.
Therefore, it’s important that everyone takes into consideration the weather conditions when walking and driving in the Peace Region.
“The ice [can be a problem for] both for the cars and pedestrians. They have to remember that cars aren’t stopping as quickly, if at all on corners and ice, when they’re walking, not to walk too close to the curb in case it is icy and they slip onto the road,” said Shelkie.
In addition, with the winter weather, comes the need for additional focus when it comes to the road.
“Drivers should always be scanning for pedestrians and err on the side of caution when they think they see something and slow down. Look for those reflective stripes and lights that pedestrians might be carrying and try to give them as much room when you pass them as possible in case they did slip and fall. Do not drive while distracted. Under the conditions we have right, now 100 per cent of your focus should be on driving,” said Dawson Creek RCMP Sgt. Scott West in an email response.
Shelkie agreed that being aware of others is something that’s important for both pedestrians and motorists.
“Have eye contact with the drivers in each vehicle that has stopped for you, so that you know that they’ve actually stopped and that they’re waiting for you,” said Shelkie.
With all the snowy weather that the Peace Region has been getting as of late, some unique problems have arrived.
“If there is too much snow on the sidewalk, people are going to be walking on the streets. If they see vehicles coming, pedestrians should step off the street to let cars pass,” noted Shelkie.
“Pedestrians should be more careful as the warm winter clothes can impact their ability to see. Taking your time and checking twice before making a move into traffic is always a good idea,” said West.