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It's not pedestrians, Calgary drivers: it's you (Canada)

It's not pedestrians, Calgary drivers: it's you (Canada)

Statistics show the overwhelming majority of casualty collisions in Alberta are caused by driver error.

Ted Rhodes / Calgary Herald

A recent story about more than 400 pedestrians being struck and injured by vehicles in 2014 sparked a flood of unrepentant responses from many readers who placed the blame on jaywalkers and inattentive strollers. They’re wrong, says Herald reporter Jason van Rassel: Although motorists are considered blameless in about one-third of reported collisions involving pedestrians in Alberta, pedestrian crashes make up less than five per cent of all casualty collisions on the province’s roads. Overall, the overwhelming majority of crashes that kill and injure people are caused by driver error. Here are five everyday mistakes that are not only infuriating, but potentially dangerous:


During the winter, my wife and I head to the mountains to ski almost every weekend. Last winter, without fail, there would be a photo radar unit sitting on the Trans-Canada Highway in the 80 km/h zone heading west out of the city. I didn’t want to get a ticket, so I’d keep our speed at about 90 km/h — just a little above the speed limit — only to get a bunch of Alpha dogs tailgating me, no matter what lane I chose. Knowing what lay ahead, I’d move over and have a hearty laugh as the impatient fools earned themselves a hefty speeding ticket. Driving too fast is a big issue in its own right, but tailgating is no laughing matter: it’s the top cause of casualty collisions in Alberta, responsible for 30 per cent of them in 2013. A common rule of thumb is that you should maintain two to three seconds of stopping time between you and the vehicle ahead — but that’s for speeds of 50 km/h on dry roads, says Ron Wilson, the Alberta Motor Association’s director of driver education. “As speeds increase and conditions deteriorate, you want to at least double that,” Wilson says.


I don’t believe there are legions of pedestrians stepping into crosswalks without giving drivers a chance to stop. The statistics back me up: 2 out of 3 times, it’s the driver’s fault when a pedestrian is hit — and that’s been my experience as I jump back onto the curb and stare daggers at motorists and wildly point to the crosswalk sign as they speed by me. Considering how so many drivers have enough time to respond with a middle-finger salute, I’d say they spotted me and just couldn’t be bothered to stop. “If a person has one foot off of the curb, they’re in the crosswalk,” says Staff Sgt. Paul Stacey of the Calgary police traffic section. Drivers can continue once a pedestrian has passed their lane (the obligation isn’t “curb to curb,” Stacey says) but passing a motorist already stopped at a crosswalk is dangerous — not to mention expensive: a $575 fine and four demerits. “How long does it take to stop for a pedestrian? On the other hand, what are the consequences if you don’t stop? They’re huge,” Stacey says.


To be clear, I’m not talking about speeding up when the light turns yellow and racing to a photo finish against an impending red light. I’m talking about the cowboys and gals I see daily, barrelling through intersections a full second or two after the light has turned red. The danger here should be obvious — killing or maiming motorists and pedestrians proceeding on a green light — but these yahoos selfishly gamble that everyone else will see them and get the hell out of their way. Don’t believe this is an epidemic? Go to any major intersection with a dedicated left-turn signal: even after it turns red, watch as two, three or even four cars enter the intersection to make their illegal turn. At best, it’s annoying if you’re in the oncoming lanes waiting to go straight, after your light turned green. But Stacey adds there’s a real danger of a broadside collision, too: a moving car approaching the intersection in a free lane may not see people entering their path until it’s too late. “They’re just going to see the green light,” he says. “A T-bone (crash) is one of the most damaging types collisions for injuries. You’re taking a real risk.”


There was a time when I thought I’d be safe turning left or right onto a three- or four-lane road as long as I did the usual things, such as looking for pedestrians and oncoming traffic. For example, if I make a right turn into the lane I’m supposed to — the curb lane — and someone turning left from the opposite direction turns into the lane they’re supposed to — the leftmost lane — then there should still be at least a one-lane buffer between us, right? Alas, my naive reliance on people either knowing or caring about the rules is long gone. Must have been that time I’d barely rounded a corner and some guy in a gargantuan Ram pickup made a left turn so wide he crossed a few time zones and nearly took off the front end of my VW. “If you’re making a right turn, you need to be in the curb lane. You can’t turn from the curb lane to the centre lane,” Stacey says. Vehicles turning onto the same road from opposite directions can proceed at the same time — as long as the way is clear and they’re not competing for a single lane, adds Stacey: If there’s only one lane to turn into, the right-turning vehicle has the right of way.


These are the boors who slow to a crawl or stop until someone lets them in. Think of eastbound Memorial at Deerfoot Trail during evening rush hour: the right hand lane exits straight onto southbound Deerfoot Trail and usually keeps moving; the next lane over is for traffic going onto northbound Deerfoot, which inevitably backs up for several blocks because the on-ramp is on the other side of the lights. That’s when a bunch of self-important jerks decide to zip past in the lane to the left and try to force their way in at the front. As they get closer to the exit and more desperate when people don’t let them in, they hit the brakes and wait. What used to be a free-flowing lane of traffic now has an obstruction — one that might force the people behind to take evasive action to prevent a collision, or at the very least, avoid getting stuck. “Most of the (infractions) we’re talking about are a matter of people not having patience. So many collisions can be avoided if people just had patience,” Stacey says.

Canada , Pedestrian Accidents

Date: 1/9/2015 12:40:57 PM

By: YASA WEB , calgaryherald.com
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Pedestrian Accidents

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