Awareness campaign targets increase in crosswalk accidents

More than 60 per cent of vehicle-pedestrian collisions happen in crosswalks

Students crossing at an unmarked crosswalk
Over 60% of pedestrian-vehicle collisions occur in crosswalks. Photo: Nikki Jamieson

The Halifax Regional Municipality reported today that crosswalk accidents were up 70 per cent between January and September this year compared to last year. That statistic gave sobering context to Crosswalk Awareness Day, a designation the municipality had scheduled for Nov. 5.

Earlier today, volunteers could be seen at major intersections waving signs and giving away promotional items such as sticker and temporary tattoos to encourage awareness. In 2013, the Halifax Regional Municipality put together the Crosswalk Safety Advisory Committee with the goal to improve pedestrian safety when using crosswalks.

“I know a lot of people don’t use them [crosswalks] here because drivers seem pretty kind,” said Brenna O’Leary, a student at Dalhousie University. “[They] always stop for students when they jaywalk.”

According to the Heads Up Halifax campaign, the majority of vehicle/pedestrian collisions in the last three years involved people from the ages of 21-30.  It is also more common for these accidents to happen on nice days between 3 a.m and 8 p.m.

“It probably has more to do with the drivers then the pedestrians,” said Brittany Weisgarber, a Dal student. “Or maybe it’s like pedestrian entitlement, like ‘I’m going to go now regardless ‘cause I’m in a pedestrian walk, and you’ve got to stop regardless.’”

Eyes up

More than 60 per cent of vehicle-pedestrian collisions happen in crosswalks, according to the HRM. The municipality’s six-week long Heads Up Halifax campaign is stressing the need for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers to pay attention and look out for one another while on the road.

“People keep getting hit even when they are on marked crosswalks, which is concerning,” said Georgia Atkin, a King’s student. “It has something to do with distraction, being in a hurry… or forgetting to pay attention when they should.”

Pedestrians do have the right of way in crosswalks, but should still exercise caution. Headphones and phones are considered major distractions and should be put away while crossing the road. Drivers are expected to yield to pedestrians in either marked or unmarked crosswalks.

Failure to comply with the Motor Vehicle Act could result in either suspension or fines ranging from $500-$2,000.

Heads Up Halifax is not the first crosswalk safety campaign for Halifax. Last winter, there was a controversial Distraction Kills campaign, featuring a dramatization of a distracted driver/walker hitting a pedestrian or getting hit by a car.

 

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