Preventing Pedestrian Injuries
In BC, pedestrian deaths account for 15% of motor vehicle-related deaths.
According to Safe Kids Canada:
Pedestrian incidents are a leading cause of injury and death for children in Canada, and it turns out that our residential streets are more dangerous than we think. More child pedestrian injuries take place on residential roads than anywhere else, and the danger is greatly increased as vehicle speed increases.
A staggering 2,412 children are seriously injured each year and approximately 30 are killed. The average child pedestrian who is killed in Canada is male, between the ages of 10 and 14 and was crossing the street at an intersection within 5 kilometers of his home. Most incidents occur between 3 and 6 p.m., when many Canadians are driving home from work.
Did you know that a child hit by a car traveling at 50 km/h has an 80% chance of being killed? Yet a child hit by a car traveling at 30 km/h, has up to a 95% chance of surviving.
14% of Canadian drivers admit to driving at least 10km/h or more over the speed limit in residential areas. Given the posted residential limits range between 40 and 50km/h, this translates into an average speed of at least 50 or 60 km/h.
According to Transport Canada:
- Two million Canadians admit to often speeding up to make it through a traffic light
- More than half (58%) of Canadians admit to having received a speeding ticket
- Of those who admitted to speeding: 57% didn’t want to be late, 51% believe the speed limits are set too low, and 51% weren’t paying attention to their speed
More than a third of Canadians (34%) believe that if a child is hit by a car, the driver is not responsible for the incident. However, the onus is on drivers to maintain and operate a motor vehicle in a responsible manner.
Drivers need to realize that if a child is injured in a motor vehicle collision, they will be held accountable – so each driver must be prepared to shoulder that responsibility. It is unreasonable for adults to make children responsible for their own safety on the road.
We know that child pedestrian injuries are preventable. The fact is the majority of children are being hit at an intersection where adults have told them it is safe to cross the street. The evidence shows that drivers are more likely to yield to child pedestrians and avoid collisions if they drive the posted speed limit.
Reducing traffic speeds is still the number one recommendation for keeping pedestrians safer. At speeds greater than 40 km/h, both drivers and pedestrians may be more likely to make mistakes in judging the time required to stop or cross the street safely. At a speed of 30 km/h, vehicles and pedestrians are able to co-exist with relative safety. The majority of Canadians (85%) agree they would willingly slow their speed from 50 km/h to 30km/h in residential areas if they knew it would have a positive impact on child safety. Knowing it can save a child’s life should encourage all Canadians to follow the rules of the road and practice safe speeds.
Active vs Passive Warnings for Intersections
A new study has interesting suggestions about how to make crosswalks safer for both pedestrians and cyclists. A key finding is that to be most effective, signals should be automatically triggered rather than requiring that users actively initiate them.
Developments in computer technology make this feasible. Click here to read the article.
Car Free Times
Read this online publication if you are interested in an international perspective on the movement toward car-free living, planning, and development.
Interventions to reduce pedestrian-vehicle crashes – pelican signal
Studies from other countries speak to the safety benefits of pedestrian-activated signals at uncontrolled crossing points. Installing so-called Pelican signals was highly effective in reducing crashes in Australia, the quarterly crash rate decreased by 90%. Pelican signal is similar to a standard mid-block pedestrian signal, except that during the pedestrian clearance phase, the display facing motorists changes to a flashing yellow, indicating that vehicles may proceed cautiously through the crossing but are required to yield to pedestrians. In this way these signals produce less delay for motorists than standard pedestrian-activated signals. Installing standard pedestrian-activated signals at midblock locations also gave rise to statistically significant reductions in crashes. In this case the adjusted reduction was 49% (Ewing and Dumbaugh, 2009).
Reference: Ewing R., Dumbaugh E. The built environment and traffic safety: A review of empirical evidence. J Planning Literature 2009; 23; 347-367.
20’s Plenty Initiative in Portsmouth, UK
Access the progress report from Portsmouth, UK, Britain’s first 20 mile per hour city from the URL: http://www.20splentyforus.org.uk/portsmouth.htm An initial report on the results of reducing the speed limit on most streets to 20 mph. Significant reductions in traffic crashes and casualties were reported. Casualties also fell by 15% and total traffic crashes by 13%, more time will be needed to establish statistically significant collision figures. However, the presenter noted the changes in child and elderly casualties in before and after numbers.
Table 1- children and elderly-involved traffic crash reductions by percentages after 20’s plenty traffic calming program
|Children (0-15)||Elderly (70+)|
Portsmouth has shown that communities can change their behavior and sensibly embark on a 20’s Plenty Where People Live initiative that delivers real benefits to every road user.
More and more towns, cities and villages are following this trend to put citizenship back into the way we drive and share our roads. People in Portsmouth are perhaps no different from us all. But what they have found is a way to enable them to turn an aspiration for safer and more pleasant streets into a reality.
City Streets a Mortal Threat to Pedestrians
This report by Wired highlights the danger that today’s street designs pose to pedestrians.