Ounce of Prevention

Holiday Reflections (literally!)

Something will be glowing in the darkness of Christmas Eve, and it’s not Rudolph’s nose. 2,000 of Norway’s 200,000 reindeer are being fitted with reflective collars or antler tags to make them more visible to drivers (read the story here).

Kudos to the Norwegian Public Roads Administration for the preventative focus of this initiative. Our own key message to pedestrians (even the four-legged kind) is to be visible. And studies have shown that reflective is the way to go. But in all seriousness, should the focus really be on reindeer? Where is the same push to make pedestrians (the human kind) more visible and, consequently, more safe?

Let’s compare the numbers. According to the Reuters report, “several people” are injured each year in collisions with reindeer and “one recent [incident] in Finland was fatal”. Several injuries? One fatality? In Canada, motor vehicle-vs-pedestrian collisions resulted in over 400 deaths, over 18,000 injuries and an economic burden of $346 million in 2004 (SMARTRISK: 2009). I thought, perhaps, Norway may not have the same level of pedestrian injury; that might explain moving on to reindeer. But a 2008 study shows that Norway has the highest rate of fatalities on pedestrian crossings in Europe (FIA Foundation: 2008).

Of course, it’s easier to collar a reindeer than to get a person to wear reflective gear. But it doesn’t hurt to try (actually, it may hurt not to). The options out there are growing – from reflective backpacks and running shoes to stickers, zipper pulls and arm bands. It only takes a small touch to keep you or your loved ones safe.

Just something to reflect on.

For more information on pedestrian safety visit inavigait.com.

The Sunnybrook RBC First Office for Injury Prevention wishes everyone a safe holiday season. Remember, injuries are preventable!

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Injury Prevention Team