Cross Walk Safety is everyone's responsibility
Published: September 21, 2008
When I moved in to my cul de sac five years ago, I was thrilled that an elementary school was so close to our home. We are only one block away, and had taken that in to account when we made the investment.
What had not been given consideration was the busy street that would have to be crossed each day in order to get to that school. And despite the well-marked cross walk, not only do some motorists not stop while people are waiting to cross, but have refused to slow down.
Child pedestrian incidents are the leading cause of injury-related deaths for Canadian children under the age of 14.
A recent survey conducted in February 2008 on child pedestrian safety by Harris/Decima, found that British Columbians ranked the highest when it came to speeding in residential areas.
Cross walks are there for a reason. And drivers need to be more aware of the possibility of someone being in one when they approach. Especially when it’s known there is a school nearby.
It terrifies me to think of any child crossing this busy street without a parent to guide them.
Motorists also need to understand that once a pedestrian enters the crosswalk, drivers must wait until they have cleared both their lane and the adjacent lane before proceeding. The law is clear on this point. This applies to cars making turns, as well – if there’s a pedestrian in the lane you’re turning into or the one next to it, you have to stop.
We have had a couple of issues with drivers who have hit the accelerator while we were still in the crosswalk. The problem with this? My son has stepped backwards on a couple of occasions while holding my hand, in an attempt to pick something up. Feeling a car go by us only inches away, is a very scary experience.
Also, right in front of my son’s new school is another crosswalk that was just installed after being petitioned for by parents, for years. However, some other parents have actually parked on the new crosswalk while dropping off, or waiting to pick up their child. Thus making the crosswalk that was petitioned for pointless - as it hinders the vision for pedestrians who can no longer see oncoming traffic.
I do believe though that cross-walk safety is everyone’s responsibility. As a pedestrian, I take one step in to the crosswalk to let motorists know I am there and then I wait until I see them slow down and make eye contact with me. This is when I motion to my son that it is safe to cross. We usually give a wave to thank the driver(s) for stopping and make our way hand-in-hand across the street.
If we put the onus entirely on drivers and take it for granted that they can stop in a safe manner, we are putting ourselves at risk as pedestrians. As the old saying goes – never assume anything.
We are a community that all need to care and be responsible for child pedestrian safety. And not just think about it at the beginning of the school year, but all year round.