B.C.’s chief coroner is warning drivers and walkers to take extra care after five elderly pedestrians were killed in intersections over the past 11 days.
Barb McLintock said two of the deaths happened in Vancouver and there have been one each in New Westminster, Kelowna and Oliver between Nov. 23 and Dec. 3.
In four of the five cases, the pedestrians – who ranged in age from 73 to 87 – were struck by vehicles making left-hand turns. In the fifth case, the vehicle was going straight through the intersection.
A review by the B.C. Coroners Service of 142 similar fatalities from 2010-2012 showed seniors over age 70 are more than twice as likely as any other age group to die in a pedestrian incident.
It also showed that in cases where pedestrians were crossing at an intersection on a green light, more than two-thirds of the drivers who struck them were making a left-hand turn.
“The need for extra care increases in the winter months when longer hours of darkness and frequent poor road and weather conditions lead to an increased number of pedestrian incidents,” McLintock said.
She noted the review showed more than a quarter of all the deaths happened in January and February.
Safety tips for pedestrians
• Enhance your visibility, especially after dark. Wear light-coloured or fluorescent clothing, or attach a light or a reflective strip to your clothing.
• Stay alert. Watch out for drivers turning into an intersection from left and right. Try to make eye contact with all nearby drivers before stepping out onto the street.
• Don’t assume a crosswalk or a green light at an intersection makes you safe. Ensure drivers see you before you step out from the curb.
• Especially if you know you may be slower in crossing a road, give yourself the most time to cross by waiting for a newly turned green or walk signal.
• Look left, right and left again before crossing the street, and be on the lookout for turning or backing vehicles.
• Keep scanning for vehicles as you cross.
• Hold your hand up or do whatever it takes to make yourself more visible to drivers.
And for motorists:
• Stay alert. Don’t be distracted by activities that take your mind off driving or your eyes off the road. Watch carefully for pedestrians when approaching any crosswalk or intersection.
• Ensure all pedestrians have cleared the road before proceeding.
• Take special care to watch for pedestrians or other vulnerable road users when making a left-hand turn.
• Watch especially carefully for the elderly or mobility-challenged. Recognize it may take them longer than average to complete a safe crossing.