With the first dusting of snow arriving just in time for Oak Bay’s Light Up festivities, it would be easy to look at the holiday season as a carefree time.
But this time of year can also pose a threat to pedestrians and motorists alike as the days grow ever shorter in the approach of the winter solstice. Police and ICBC officials were passing out reflectors to UVic students last week to help spread the word on the need for pedestrians to be visible at night.
ICBC’s sobering statistics reveal a 74 per cent uptick in pedestrian or cyclist collisions with vehicles between October and January. December is the worst month for pedestrian injuries and deaths resulting from vehicle collisions, and most incidents happen on Fridays after 3 p.m. when people are often tired and in a hurry to get home.
In an average year, 2,400 pedestrians are injured and another 58 are killed in B.C. Almost one in five people killed in car crashes across B.C. are pedestrians and nearly three-quarters of crashes involving pedestrians happen at intersections.
ICBC road safety co-ordinator Colleen Woodger advises that eye contact is the best way to avoid unexpected encounters between motorists and pedestrians or cyclists. She was also quick to point out that road safety extends onto area buses.
“Some transit users don’t think they need reflective equipment, but every bus ride starts and ends with a walk.”
Winter brings additional challenges for drivers as well. According to an ICBC survey, nearly 40 per cent feel less confident driving during the winter.
Drivers are advised to allow at least twice the normal braking distance on wet or slippery roads and to make sure your vehicle is equipped for winter conditions. Motorists can check the conditions before heading out on the road by visiting www.drivebc.ca.
The holiday season should be a time for sharing joy with friends and family. We can all do our part to help keep the season merry by taking the necessary precautions and leaving a few extra minutes to reach our destination safely.