Protecting Vulnerable Road Users
The term vulnerable road user has become quite common in the last few years, but how is one defined? According to Transport Canada Road Safety in Canada report, a vulnerable road user is one whom "is vulnerable by virtue of their lack of protection if struck by a vehicle," (https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/motorvehiclesafety). Vulnerable road users include pedestrians, motorcyclists, mopeds and bicyclists. According to the report between 2004-2008, 23% of traffic deaths were vulnerable road users with 13% of that number being pedestrians.
Pedestrians are especially at risk during dusk or at night. If you are walking at night, where available, use sidewalks and dress to be visible in light coloured or reflective clothing. Avoid using your smart phone or MP3/music player while walking in a vulnerable area as it decreases your awareness. As a driver, remember times of reduced visibility are especially risky for pedestrians so continually scan to be aware of any pedestrians in your area. The same report states 60% of pedestrian fatalities occur while the pedestrian is attempting to cross the road. This statistic does not mean they were necessarily at a controlled crossing, be aware of people randomly walking across the road. At a controlled crossing, try to make eye contact with the pedestrian to ensure you both communicate your intentions.
Visibility is also a huge issue for motorcycles, mopeds and bicyclists. Always ensure you were an approved helmet and dress to be visible. As with pedestrians dusk and night time are when they are especially vulnerable. Drivers ensure you continually scan, check your mirrors and blind spots. Make an extra check before changing lanes or turning (especially right hand turns). A moped or bicyclist can easily be in your blind spot. Ensure you signal all turns well in advance so the vulnerable road user and all road users are aware of your intent.
Vulnerable road users are more apt to receive major injuries or become a fatality in event of a collision. We, as drivers, can play a major part of lowering these statistics but courteously sharing the road. Remind yourself to continually scan, check all blind spots before changing lanes or turning and indicating our intent often and early by using our turn signals, making eye contact and using appropriate hand signals. At the end of the day, we all want to get home safely.