As Grande Prairians trudge through the snow, the Alberta Motor Association (AMA) is reminding both pedestrians and drivers to stay safe as the weather gets colder.

“In the morning, kids go to school and then after school,” said Shelley Biendarra, AMA School Safety Patrol regional co-ordinator.

“And people are walking into parking lots and walking into buildings, so technically we’re all still walking.”

According to Alberta Transportation’s Alberta Traffic Collision Statistics 2014, there were 521 casualty collisions involving pedestrians from November to March. In 2013, there were 461 within the same time period.

“Basically, we find they go up from September to January,” said Gordon Ellert, a traffic safety consultant with Alberta Transportation, Office of Traffic Safety in Grande Prairie.

“We think that one of the reasons is the increased darkness. You get winter conditions, you get snow, you get bad road conditions, more people out, kids are walking to school, those types of things.” However, Ellert said while collision numbers involving pedestrians are similar between 2013 and 2014, there was a reduction in fatalities across Alberta throughout the year.

“In 2013, there was 47 pedestrians that were killed and 1,167 injured and in 2014, there were 43 pedestrians killed and the injuries were about the same,” said Ellert.

The 2014 report also states pedestrian collisions tend to happen during rush hour, from 3 to 7 p.m, with 96% of the collisions occurring in urban areas. Of those collisions, 48% involved drivers who failed to yield to a pedestrian.

“There’s lots more going on, people are in a rush and unfortunately, then that just brings the incidents up higher,” said Biendarra.

“I’d like to see zero because everyone is just doing due diligence and paying attention.”

Teenage pedestrians, aged 15-19 are more likely to be injured.

To avoid injuries, Biendarra said walkers should watch for hazards, such as sliding vehicles. She added that it’s recommended pedestrians plan a route away from traffic congestion or uncontrolled intersections. Pedestrians are also encouraged to avoid texting or other distractions, as well as lowering the volume of their music in busy traffic areas.

“Remember the three P’s; point, pause, proceed, when you’re at the corner or at the crosswalk,” said Biendarra.

“Also if you’re going to walk at night, please wear something reflective so drivers can see you.”

Other safety tips include staying on the sidewalk and avoiding jaywalking, as it can be difficult for drivers to spot pedestrians who dart out into the street.

When individuals are walking, AMA encourages proper winter wear such as boots with a good grip, as well as hats and scarves that don’t interfere with peripheral vision. People can also walk with a buddy in the dark and carry a flashlight.

“If it’s icy and you are not wearing the proper boots or shoes, walk like a penguin, shuffle, shuffle to keep yourself from falling because you can cause yourself a lot of injuries,” said Biendarra.

Drivers should also avoid distractions like cellphones, said Biendarra, and keep their hands in the nine and three o’clock position on the steering wheel.

“Give yourself distance to the person in front of you because if they’re going to touch their brakes suddenly, then you might bang into them and also maybe they are touching on their brakes because there’s a pedestrian there,” said Biendarra.

Motorists should also clean off their car so headlights are visible to pedestrians, adjust their speed to match the current road conditions and not drive while impaired.

Source: Daily Herald Tribune
November 17, 2015
By Alexa Huffman