You’re out for a quick jog before work. It’s early and summer traffic is light, you decide to cut across a normally busy Edmonton street. Just like that—and out of nowhere—a car swerves into your path, missing you by centimetres.
Even if the above scenario has never happened to you, it’s increasingly possible in our fast-paced world. Even pedestrians who stay within the crosswalk may feel unsafe amid a sea of drivers who feel tired, distracted, or entitled to ignore the rules of the road.
Of course, if you’re within the downtown area and you can take full advantage of the city’s Pedway system, you don’t worry as much as others who are out running errands, going to a bus stop, or crossing at a confusing intersection. More than ever, pedestrians have to show a great deal of caution before they step off the curb.
Be proactive about preventing accidents; take time to refresh your memory and learn more about drivers’ and pedestrians’ basic responsibilities to each other.
Basic Drivers’ Rules
If it’s been a while since you took a driver’s test, you may have forgotten some of the rules. Here are a few reminders:
- Drive at or below the posted speed limit especially if you are driving through a residential neighbourhood or high pedestrian traffic area.
- Follow common courtesy when overtaking another vehicle, always passing on the left side.
- Use caution in school zones (particularly between 8 – 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., and 3 – 4:30 p.m.). Even if it’s summer time, remember that children use school playgrounds all year round.
- Never pass another vehicle while in a school zone or if pavement markings prohibit passing.
- Always use your vehicle’s turn signals when turning or passing and remember to shoulder check before starting your turn.
- Make clear hand signals (according to prescribed methods) if turn signals don’t work correctly.
- Follow pavement markings and road signs carefully.
- Use extra caution when reversing your vehicle, paying special heed to blind spots.
- Stop well behind marked white lines just ahead of stop signs and crosswalks.
- While at a stop, yield to passing traffic and pedestrians.
- When approaching a traffic circle, yield to traffic that travels to your left.
- Stop at railway crossings when directed by crossing gates, signals, and other audible or visual cues.
Yield to Pedestrians When:
- A person (or persons) enters a crosswalk in front of (or adjacent to) your vehicle.
- Pedestrians are crossing the roadway in front of the car ahead of you.
- At any instance where you should exercise due care for a pedestrian’s safety.
In other circumstances, drivers have the right of way. The only exception is when directed otherwise by a traffic officer.
When in doubt
Remember that the Traffic Safety Act mandates yielding to pedestrians the majority of the time. You may be fined over $500 and ticketed if you fail to yield to a pedestrian.
Basic Pedestrians’ Rules
It’s not only drivers who occasionally make errors of judgment on the roads and byways. Pedestrians also need to follow safety guidelines. Common guidelines include:
- Be aware of the area around you.
- Keep eye contact with drivers (not your cell phone) whenever you cross the street.
- Obey traffic signals.
- Watch for turning vehicles.
- Follow sidewalks, paths, and other areas marked for pedestrians’ use.
- Avoid walking on a road when the above areas are available.
- In the event that no sidewalk or path is available, walk on the left side of the road or highway (facing oncoming traffic).
- Cross roadways efficiently and quickly wherever possible.
- Avoid loitering or delays while crossing a road.
- Wait until cars that are too close to stop safely have passed, and then proceed into crosswalk.
- Always yield to automobile traffic if you are crossing anywhere other than in a crosswalk.
- If needed, use pedestrian hand signals (raised arm at a right angle to your body, pointing in the direction you wish to go).
- Use pedestrian flags if they’re provided at a given intersection.
- Enter a crosswalk if you’re facing a green light or pedestrian signal. Avoid entering if you face a green traffic arrow (wait for a pedestrian signal).
- Do not enter a crosswalk during yellow or red traffic signals.
- Do not break through parades, funeral processions, or military caravans.
- Do not cross where otherwise prohibited to pedestrians.
Any exceptions to these rules generally come at the request of a traffic officer who gives alternate directions.
In summary, use sidewalks, cross within crosswalks, and don’t jaywalk. The latter offense could bring on a fine of $250. Beyond the fine, jaywalking is inherently unsafe.
If You’re Hurt in a Car-Pedestrian Accident
Sometimes accidents occur even when drivers and pedestrians travel carefully. The sun may create a glare that keeps a driver from seeing clearly—or a medical episode may cause either the driver or pedestrian to create an accident.
Regardless of the reason, accidents require quick action. First, get prompt medical attention. Family members may need to act on the victim’s behalf if the injury is severe. In some cases, the accident may require legal intervention. If so, call an accident lawyer to take care of the details.
The next time you go out on the town, either as a pedestrian or a driver, pay attention to the rules of the road, reduce your risk for accidents, and enjoy the journey.
Good Decisions are Based on Full Information
Involved in a car accident? It’s always a good idea to get legal advice about your rights and obligations. Most personal injury lawyers, including CAM LLP, provide an initial free consult. Getting full information leads to better decisions.