Ounce of Prevention

Where the Sidewalk Ends

A week into summer now and we are experiencing warmer weather and starting to see more pedestrians and cyclists on the roads every day. With Canada Day and the Pride Parade coming up this weekend (July 1st), we will experience increased pedestrians, and foot traffic across the city. During this time it is crucial that pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers be aware and take caution while on the roads.

Pedestrian injuries are all too common. According to the Toronto Police, collision analysis for the city of Toronto indicates that on average, 50 – 60 percent of all fatalities involve pedestrians. To date, 50 percent of all 2012 fatalities have involved pedestrians. This number accurately reflects statistics from similar heavily populated North American cities, and is on the rise. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and it is vital for pedestrians to take the necessary preventative measures to avoid injury.

Pedestrian behaviour has become a topic of interest in recent years; they are not only at risk because of the increasing number of motor vehicles on the road, but are also subject to environmental hazards including weather and road conditions, construction zones, and the presence of others.

Walking and crossing speeds are subject to the influence of environmental factors, pedestrian characteristics, distractions such as headphones or cellular telephones, and both foot-traffic and motor vehicle traffic. A recent study by Neider et al. (2011) found that both college-age and middle-age pedestrians spend more time crossing the street if talking on a cellphone, or listening to an iPod, relative to pedestrians who are not subject to such distractions. Research further indicates that pedestrians who text while walking will cross a crosswalk on average 3-5 seconds slower, and are 65% more likely to hit an obstacle (Neider et al., 2008). For further evidence regarding texting and walking, feel free to watch this clip: Texting and Walking Mishap

Remember – it is the responsibility of both drivers and pedestrians to be aware of their surroundings, and staying safe should be the number one priority. Here are some tips for pedestrians and drivers to keep in mind:

Tips for Pedestrians:

  •  Be safe. Use sidewalks and marked crosswalks where provided, do not jay-walk, and always be aware of cyclists, drivers, and motorcycles.
  •  Be wary. If walking at night, be bright and use reflective tape on your clothing, and avoid wearing all black  (the cars cannot see you!)
  • Be aware. Avoid texting while walking, and wearing headphones while crossing intersections and while walking at night.
  •  Be cautious. Just because you can see a driver does not mean they can see you! Always try to make eye contact to be sure they see you.
  •  Be smart. Alcohol can impair your ability to walk safely and can decrease awareness of surroundings.
  •  Cross the street as if your life depends on it!
 Tips for Drivers:
  • Be prepared. Be prepared to stop at all crosswalks – both marked and unmarked! This means looking at both sides of a crosswalk when approaching one to see if anyone is about to cross, and stopping well back
  • Be alert. Pedestrians are not always where they are supposed to be, so always be on the look out.
  • Be vigilant. Pedestrians are not easy to see at night or in bad weather – slow down and keep clear vision.
  • Be predictable. Use your indicators and check all mirrors before making sudden changes or turns.
  • Be honest. Put the phone away! Not on your lap, in the cup holder, or on the dashboard. Put it in the trunk if you are tempted to use it. Not only is it illegal, it is dangerous and unfair. 
Don’t be like Miley!

   For more information on pedestrian safety, visit iNavigait’s website

About the author


Injury Prevention Team