Injuries suffered by two Sidney seniors after a vehicle struck them while crossing a road on a dark November night underscores several broad aspects concerning pedestrian safety.
Const. Meighan Massey of the Sidney/North Saanich RCMP said the women involved in Sunday’s crash were lucky to have suffered only minor injuries.
According to ICBC, almost one in five people killed in motor vehicle incidents are pedestrians, with some 2,700 pedestrians suffering injuries, on average every year. ICBC recorded 42 pedestrian fatalities in 2017 across British Columbia including three on Vancouver Island. Two recent fatal crashes involving pedestrians involved a 68-year-old North Saanich resident and a 62-year-old Saanich woman.
More than three out of four crashes involving pedestrians happen at intersections, according to ICBC. Sunday’s crash happened in a marked crosswalk at the corner of 3rd Street and Sidney Avenue. The two women, aged 87 and 88, had just finished watching a moviewhen a vehicle driven by a 60-year-old Saanich man struck them. One of the women received treatment on-site for what Sidney/North Saanich RCMP called minor injuries, while the other received treatment at a local hospital before being released.
Crashes involving pedestrians, according to ICBC, most often happen in the fall and winter months – October through January.
Darkness was also considered a factor in Sunday’s crash, although it happened outside the hours when ICBC typically sees crashes involving pedestrians. Those hours are between 3 and 6 p.m., which can be after dark in the winter months.
Sunday’s crash also highlighted one of the central contributing factors to the crashes involving pedestrians — failure of drivers to yield right of way — as the Sidney/North Saanich RCMP issued a ticket against the driver for failing to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk.
Police also noted foggy windows may have been a contributing factor in Sunday’s crash and the driver was also issued a fine for operating a vehicle with limited visibility.
Sidney/North Saanich RCMP recently prepared a video highlighting some ways both drivers and pedestrians can ensure safety.
Colleen Woodger, road safety coordinator with ICBC, said drivers should remain focused on the road, forego use of their personal devices, and yield to pedestrians, “especially when turning at intersections and transit stops.”
Const. Paul Mittelsteadt added pedestrians can do their part by using marked crosswalks, making eye contact with drivers, and wearing reflective clothing.
Broadly, the crash also draws attention to age-friendly urban design as the women were in their late 80s. As Canadian society ages, urban designers have called for measures that respond and recognize changing demographics, an issue of some importance to the Saanich Peninsula generally and Sidney specifically, as one of the oldest communities in the region.
In a 2018 report titled Zero to 100: Planning for an Aging Population, prepared for the Capital Regional District, Sidney-based urban planner Kristin Agnello spells out a number of recommendations to improve sidewalks and pathways, including sufficient pedestrians crossings that are safe for people for different levels and types of disability, with non-slip markings, visual and audio cues, and adequate crossing times.
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