Pedestrian safety


Although everyone knows about looking both ways before crossing the street, incidents of pedestrians being hit by cars remain high… and not just among children and older people.

The main causes are: bad road design or signage; drivers being negligent, reckless or just inexperienced; pedestrians being inattentive or impatient. But whoever is at fault, the underlying cause is usually a lack of caution.

Road sense for people on foot

Follow these tips when crossing the street… and get to the other side safely![1] 

  • Be visible. Wear clothing that’s brightly coloured or has a reflective band.
  • If you’re out walking at night, especially on poorly lit streets or roads, consider taking a flashlight: you’ll be more visible to drivers and better able to see obstacles that you could trip over.
  • Don’t be distracted. Avoid talking or texting on a cellphone, or listening to headphones. Pay attention to the traffic coming from all directions.
  • Look several times from left to right while crossing, until you get safely to the other side.
  • Always cross on marked pedestrian crosswalks or at intersections where drivers have to stop or slow down.
  • Whenever crossing at an intersection, check to see if a vehicle is turning towards you.

  • At traffic lights, wait for the “Walk” signal or green light before crossing.
  • If you see that a traffic light has been at green for a while, don’t take a chance on crossing: you could get caught in the middle.
  • Before crossing in front of an approaching vehicle, make sure the driver has seen you and has started braking.
  • Never cross between parked cars or in front of a bus or truck. Drivers on the road may not see you until the last minute and might not have time to brake.
  • When passing behind a vehicle, try to avoid being in the driver’s blind spot. Keep in mind that a driver backing up may not have seen you.
  • Be careful when walking on bike paths; collisions between cyclists and pedestrians are more common than you might think.
  • Be aware of the effects of alcohol and drugs. Even when on foot, you could be less alert and your reflexes slower.

[1] Source: Adult and pediatric neurotraumatology program, McGill University Health Centre, May 2006.