It took a cultural shift to battle drinking and driving, perhaps it’s time to make another shift so fewer pedestrians die in our streets.
As with drunk driving, we can do that by changing laws, attitudes and public perception.
Tougher laws and costly penalties made it unacceptable to drink and drive. Groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving got behind the campaigns and programs such as Operation Red Nose made it easier for people to make the right choice during the holidays. Corporations launched campaigns to make it cool to be the designated driver and drivers — thus educated and forewarned — changed their behaviour.
It may take similar efforts to reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities, which last year totalled 63, according to the BC Coroner’s Service. That’s almost the same number of people who were killed by drunk drivers last year, yet where’s the outcry?
The sad fact is it’s walking seniors, 70 years and older, who die the most often in a collision with a car. Where do most of these fatalities occur? At intersections and marked crosswalks. When? In December and January, when it’s dark and rainy. In fact, people of all ages are at greatest risk during this province’s gloomiest months.
Pedestrians need to understand that there are no safe intersections or crosswalks. Adults must apply the same safety rules they teach their kids: be aware of your surroundings, look both ways, make eye contact with drivers. And sorry, seniors, old age is not an exemption from the crucial lessons we direct at our youth.
But it doesn’t stop there: Driver education must be enhanced, laws must be toughened and outwear must be reflective, or at the very least lighter in colour.
Pedestrian fatalities aren’t any less serious than drunk driving deaths. So why are they treated that way?