A recent PSA by Alberta Transportation delivers a loud and clear message.
Motorists — here are a bunch of sure-fire excuses to keep in mind when you mow down a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Yep — keep on grinning. Thumbs up, baby, you’re golden.
Peds — it’s always your fault.  And you’re not safe anywhere.
After much outrage, Alberta Transportation pulled the message.  But it’s hard to understand how peds are singled out like this, when the facts of the matter are quite clear as to what the source of the danger is.
According to the City of Vancouver’s 2012 Pedestrian Safety Study:

The vast majority of collisions at intersections involved drivers failing to yield to pedestrians when pedestrians had the right-of-way. ƒ
One quarter of all pedestrian collisions took place at mid-block locations, where the pedestrian was either crossing the street at a mid-block crosswalk or a location without a traffic control, crossing a driveway or laneway, or was struck at the sidewalk or at a bus stop. ƒ
The top five pedestrian collision types listed below accounted for approximately two-thirds of all pedestrian collisions:

  1. Vehicle turns left while pedestrian crosses with right-of-way at signalized intersection (25.6% of known collision types)
  2. Vehicle turns right while pedestrian crosses with right-of-way at signalized intersection (17.1%)
  3. Pedestrian hit while crossing mid-block without a traffic control, or jaywalking (11.5%)
  4. Vehicle proceeds straight through while pedestrian crosses at stop sign or crosswalk (6.9%)
  5. Pedestrian hit while crossing driveway or laneway (6.5%).


  1. While I agree that drivers are egregiously at fault in most of these types of accidents, it’s also true that the majority of them could be avoided if the pedestrians practiced “defensive walking” and actually looked around for errant motorists. In that sense, trying to encourage pedestrians to be vigilant is not a bad thing.
    And while wearing bright clothing isn’t a bad idea, it’s bad if it makes people complacent. The brightest clothing in the world isn’t going to prevent you from being hit by a driver who’s looking at his cell phone. When you’re a pedestrian the safest thing is to assume that all motorists are out to get you.
    Of course, there should be a campaign aimed at drivers, too. The number of left turn accidents in particular warrants special attention. Drivers turning left are not generally distracted – there’s another problem here. They need to be educated about the need to move their heads so they can “look around” the A-pillar (the pillar at the edge of the windshield) as they make turns. The pillars in modern cars tend to be thicker due to safety requirements (they house airbags) and a pedestrian walking toward you can be covered by the pillar and remain hidden as the vehicle is turning (because of their opposing motion).
    And the flip side of this is that pedestrians should take extra care to watch for turning cars crossing at an intersection, particularly if they’re turning left.

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