Recently, Metropolitan Toronto Police were very concerned as they had experienced eight pedestrian and bicycle collisions in one morning. The news media were blaming the autumn darkness and inclement weather. Surprise folks. Autumn and winter come around every year.

City life has its own hazards. High concentrations of people and traffic, all pushing the limits of time and space create a rats nest of activity that increases the danger. Throw a little darkness, rain or snow into the equation and things begin to back-up. Drivers become frustrated that their self-imposed time limits can no longer be met and they begin to race and vie for the other fellow’s space. Pedestrians and cyclists are similar in that their main goal is to stay dry and reach their destination as quickly as possible. Caution is cast off to the wind.

Our “me-first” society has people on auto-pilot each, with their own Nick-2015rationale being the only thing that matters. You’ve seen them. Perhaps, you’re among them. Drivers cutting each other off or tailgating so closely intimidating the driver ahead to get out of their way. Pedestrians and cyclists in dark clothing going in one direction will reach a corner and make a ninety-degree turn, stepping right out into live lanes without even looking to see what is coming or rounding the bend from behind them. That is, of course, if they wait to get to the corner. Many cross in mid-block. There are many strange possibilities out there. Be ready!

Rain, ice or vapour on vehicle mirrors and windows make seeing clearly by drivers more difficult than usual. Many drivers do not adjust their driving to adapt to these conditions. They continue to operate at normal or greater speed because, now, they’re late.

Be seen or be part of the scene! For whatever reason, we humans seem to like dark, conservative clothing. In a country where rush-hour comes in twilight or darkness five or six months a year, you’d think we’d have enough sense to make ourselves visible to traffic. Note the increase of companies requiring their employees to wear bright safety vests, shirts or jackets. That’s because business is paying a heavy financial price when their employees get hurt.

So, what can you do to improve the odds? Make sure your brain is in gear before you make any move. Actually, think about what you are doing when you are doing it. Ignore distractions, especially other crashes. You know that the rest of the drivers around you are watching them so you be sure to watch what the rest of the world is doing. Second crashes are so common. Don’t become a part of them.

Contrary to what the mechanic tells you about not needing to warm up your engine, make sure it is warm enough to keep all your glass clear before you put it in gear.

Quit “pushing” it! You are in control of your own time limits. Being late will not put you in a casket. Put that in your mind when you feel tempted to accelerate.

At some point, even drivers become pedestrians so wear bright clothing. Leave your dark apparel for bright, snowy days only. Make a point to increase the amount of time you need to complete your trip or function. Give yourself more time and provide a nice, relaxed interlude to have a coffee at the destination end. You’ll survive quite well without it if things become delayed.

Whether walking, riding or driving, slow down, especially during inclement weather. Once you’re wet, you’re wet and you will have to dry out anyway. You will dry, by the way! Being upright, walking/riding and wet is far better than lying on the ground injured, bleeding, cold and wet. That extra fraction of a second can save your, or somebody else’s, life. Take the time to look carefully at each situation.

Keep your people safe!
The beauty of life is in your hands ……..

About the Author

Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.

As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.

Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council

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