Candles, flowers, notes and other items have been left in a doorway of a Port Alberni building, near where Julia Amos died on Dec. 18, 2019, while crossing the street in poorly lighted conditions. (SUSAN QUINN/Alberni Valley News)

Drivesmart: Pedestrian visibility at night a matter of life and death

Walk to stay alive: the pedestrian is always the loser in a collision

By Tim Schewe

I read an article recently about conspicuity for police officers working on the highway.

It suggested that the reflective vests and jackets that we use to stand out and be identified by drivers at night were not very effective. A driver had to approach closely when using low beam headlights to see a reflection, and the reflections that were seen did not immediately suggest that what the driver was looking at was a pedestrian.

The problem with low beam headlights is that they initially illuminate the area of a pedestrian’s feet and by the time they reach the mid and upper body, it is too late for the driver to react to what they are seeing.

Tests in a driving simulator produced an even more surprising result. Sixty per cent of drivers who were warned that a pedestrian would appear during the simulation failed to see them on the roadway in time to avoid colliding with them. Often drivers report that the first indication that they had of a pedestrian being present on the highway is when they heard the sound of the collision with them.

Looking at the view from the pedestrian’s perspective, researchers found that pedestrians all felt that they were more visible to drivers than they actually were.

From Neil Arason’s book No Accident: Eliminating Injury and Death on Canadian Roads:

“An Australian study found that drivers noticed only 5 percent of plain-clothed pedestrians in the most challenging conditions (low beams, black clothing, glare), whereas they recognized 100 percent of pedestrians who wore reflective clothing in areas where their body moved.”

The bottom line? If you are a pedestrian on the highway at night, wear something light colored with reflective markings in the places that your body moves such as wrists and ankles. Biological motion is very effective protection.

Use the sidewalk, or if a sidewalk is not present, stay as far to the left of the roadway as possible. These rules cover all pedestrians in British Columbia.

Never cross the highway unless you can clear the travelled portion well before the approching vehicle nears you unless you are certain that the driver will stop. Better still, wait until the driver sees you and has stopped.

If you are a driver that is purchasing a new vehicle, consider one with forward collision warning or automatic emergency braking. These systems, properly used and maintained will help you avoid crashes.

Walk to stay alive. Regardless of being right or wrong in terms of right of way, the pedestrian is always the loser in a collision.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

Just Posted

Group continues to pull sunken, abandoned wrecks from Salish Sea

Dead Boats society inching towards 89 wrecks pulled from Capital Regional waters

People tab ‘Roaring ’20s’ as theme for Parksville sand sculpting competition

‘Topsy Turvy’ and ‘Celebrate!’ also considered for 2020 beach festival event

Port promoting tourism excursions for cruise ship passengers in Nanaimo

Port authority develops partnerships in advance of six ships arriving in 2020

Captain says nothing beats VIU volleyball program

Graduating player Andrea Cankovic has three national titles and isn’t quite done yet

Don’t be blinded by love: Saanich police warn of online dating red flags

Canadians lost about $25 million to romance scams in 2018

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Court awards Nanaimo woman $300,000 after crash exacerbates her fibromyalgia

Judgment follows 2015 motor vehicle accident on Turner Road

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Eyes on police after Trudeau orders blockades torn down, injunctions enforced

The RCMP in B.C. have sent a letter to the traditional leaders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation

Most Read