I had the pleasure of visiting Banff, Alberta as a tourist this spring. The downtown area of the city has been remade with pedestrians in mind. The sidewalks are wide, speed limits are reduced and the three pedestrian scrambles move a lot of people more safely than the conventional intersection. Clearly, pedestrians are a welcome part of traffic in the core area.
By now you are probably wondering what a pedestrian scramble is. Rather than operate the intersection signals as we have come to expect, alternating traffic (including pedestrians) through and across the intersection, Banff’s scramble stops all vehicles for one phase of the traffic lights and allows pedestrians to cross both perpendicularly and diagonally in all directions. In effect, control of the intersection is turned over to pedestrians instead of focusing on moving motor vehicles as a priority.
This system is optimum in urban areas where pedestrian traffic is heavy and sufficient space exists on the sidewalk to accommodate large groups. This is the case in Banff which can see 2,000 pedestrians and 200 vehicles per hour at one downtown intersection in the summer.
Probably the biggest advantage of the pedestrian scramble is the reduction of conflict. During the scramble phase, only pedestrians are moving and all vehicles must stop. Otherwise, only vehicles move and drivers no longer have to worry about pedestrians while making turns. To me, this is a fair exchange. Having to wait a little longer for pedestrians is traded for faster and safer flow on turns.
Implementation of a diagonal crossing can reduce pedestrian casualties by as much as 38% according to Transport for London. I liked it simply because I only had to wait to cross the street once to get to the other side of the intersection when I wasn’t staying on the same side of the street.
There appears to be an alternative system as examples of scrambles that I have found elsewhere allow pedestrians to parallel vehicle traffic for two cycles of the traffic lights. A third cycle of four way red lights to stop all vehicular traffic occurs and allows the scramble to take place.
Some scrambles are also controlled by traffic signals that prohibit right turns during the scramble phase.
Of course, this works well when everyone follows the rules. Pedestrian wait times tend to be longer at a scramble and impatient people could occasionally be seen disobeying the pedestrian controls and dodging vehicles. As it is with drivers, personal convenience can trump traffic laws and consideration for others.
With Vancouver in the news this week for having a higher than normal pedestrian death rate so far in 2016 and the Vancouver Police Department announcing a cyclist and pedestrian safety campaign, one would wonder why cities in B.C. don’t adopt pedestrian scrambles. Well, it appears that Vancouver did consider scrambles in 2011, hoping to implement some on Robson Street similar to one at Moncton and Number 1 Road in Richmond. The city dropped that plan in 2013.
However you choose to cross the street, use a crosswalk, follow the signals, stop, look both ways, hold hands and yield to motor vehicles. Remember that right of way is given, not demanded.
Argh! The driver in front of me is not doing the speed limit! Yes, I’ll admit that I often feel the this way, even when the speed differential is as low as 5 to 10 km/h. I have to tell myself to relax and follow along until there is a safe opportunity to pass by or even be satisfied with reducing my own speed to match and not worrying about it. The trouble is, that only works if you don’t have a schedule to keep and in some circumstances slow driving can be dangerous.
We seem to behave as if the speed signs are labelled minimum or exactly instead of maximum. If you aren’t doing at least the maximum speed, either get out of the way or get off of the highway. Perhaps the only place a lower speed might be somewhat tolerable is when the slow driver is using the right lane of a multiple lane highway.
Speaking from the point of view of the traffic laws, exceeding the posted speed limit is illegal. Driving at a speed less than the speed limit is not, as long as there is a good reason for doing so and the reduced speed is a reasonable one.
If the speed is unreasonable, police action may be taken by either requiring the driver to increase speed or by removing the vehicle from the road until the officer directs otherwise.
A responsible slow driver will monitor traffic in the rear view mirror and move out of the way to let others by. This is both polite and keeps safety in mind. If you obstruct an irresponsible driver you could easily provoke irrational or unsafe behaviour that results in a collision.
I’ve been told in past that “everyone knows that the police won’t write a speeding ticket for 10 over.” Observing the traffic around me when I drive, many seem to have adopted this as their personal speed limit. So, if at least 10 over is acceptable, why is at least 10 under not?
When I did speed enforcement, if I allowed the same tolerance under the speed limit as I did for those exceeding it and kept the advisory speed signs in mind, I constantly found drivers outside the upper limit but rarely found drivers under the lower limit.
Complaints about slow drivers usually come from people who are experienced drivers and comfortable with their vehicle’s operation. While they do make up the majority of road users, there are beginners of all ages and drivers who are ageing or suffer from health impairments who self limit their speed in order to be safe. We cannot expect the latter group to speed up to keep the former happy. They are licenced therefore entitled to use the highways within the law too.
Some single and combination vehicles are not powerful enough or designed to keep up to the posted speed limits. In fact, if the vehicle is capable of at least 60 km/h on level ground, it is able to use freeways posted at 120 km/h.
If you are a slow driver and have a collection of followers, remain at the slower speed and allow them to pass by when you reach a section of passing lane. If there is no passing lane and an area to pull over is available, use it. Remember to keep right on multiple laned highways. If you are a faster driver, don’t be a bulldozer and intimidate the slower driver hoping to pass. Being responsible keeps us all safe.
Now that it’s officially summer and B.C. schools are heading into summer break, drivers should expect even more children playing outside. Road safety is not always top of mind for kids so it’s important to pay extra attention when you’re driving, especially around playgrounds and residential areas and for parents to go over the rules of the road with their children.
On average, 153 child pedestrians (aged five to 15) are injured in crashes each year in B.C.*
Tips for drivers:
Slow down: With more children playing outside in the summer, be cautious and watch your speed, especially near playgrounds, parks and in residential areas. Playground speed limits remain in effect year-round.
Watch for clues: In residential areas, a hockey net or ball can mean that kids are playing nearby. Remember that a child could dash into the street at any moment. Pay attention and always anticipate the unexpected.
Watch for cyclists: Actively watch for cyclists on the road who might be harder to see. Make eye contact with them whenever possible to let them know you have seen them. Shoulder check for cyclists before turning right and watch for oncoming cyclists before turning left.
Tips for parents:
Focus on the basics: Go over these important road safety tips with your children – even older children need to be reminded about road safety.
Set a good example: Never jaywalk or run across the street. Where possible, cross at intersections with a pedestrian crossing light or marked crossing.
Parked vehicles: Encourage your children to avoid shortcuts through parking lots or around parked cars where it’s harder for drivers to see small children.
Safe driving with children: Relatives, friends’ parents, and other caregivers often transport children in the summer. The law requires children be secured in car seats or booster seats until they are four feet nine inches tall or at least nine years old. Make sure your children’s seats or boosters goes with them if they might travel without you by car.
Cycling 101: Cyclist injuries from crashes with vehicles peak in July and August. It’s never too early to teach your children safe cycling behaviour – it could help make it second-nature to them when they’re older. Start by covering these basics:
Cycle in a straight line, avoid weaving and try to be as predictable as possible.
When sharing a path with pedestrians, ride on the right hand side for everyone’s safety. Use a bell or horn to alert others when you plan to pass.
When turning, shoulder check well in advance, hand signal and then with both hands on the handle bars, shoulder check again before turning.
Make sure children wear approved helmets that meet safety standards every time they ride their bikes and periodically inspect them for signs of wear.
On average, 108 child pedestrians (aged five to 15) are injured in crashes each year in theLower Mainland.
On average, 19 child pedestrians (aged five to 15) are injured in crashes each year onVancouver Island.
On average, 17 child pedestrians (aged five to 15) are injured in crashes each year in theSouthern Interior.
On average, seven child pedestrians (aged five to 15) are injured in crashes each year in theNorth Central region.
*Notes: ICBC crash and injury data used (2009 to 2013).
Police stopped more than 350 impaired drivers during May’s province-wide traffic safety spotlight on impaired driving.
In total, there were 359 impaired-driving related offences, including:
- 3 zero Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) offences (applies to new drivers with any BAC level)
- 5 low BAC offences (applies to experienced drivers with a BAC ranging from .04 to .08)
- 351 Criminal Code charges such as high BAC (exceeding .08), impaired driving or refusing a breath test
In addition, there were 5,616 speeding/aggressive driving offences, 325 distracted driving offences (225 of those for cellphone use) and 450 seatbelt, car seat or booster seat violations throughout the month.
SGI reminds motorists to always plan a safe ride home and never get into a vehicle with someone who has been drinking or using drugs.
#PracticeUp Saskatchewan – police continue to focus on new driver safety for the month of June.
View more information about impaired driving and its consequences. Follow SGI on Facebookand Twitter for safety tips to #TakeCareOutThere.
Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) is the province’s self-sustaining auto insurance fund. SGI operates 21 claims centres and five salvage centres across Saskatchewan with a head office in Regina. SGI also works with a network of nearly 400 motor licence issuers across the province. Customers can now do some transactions online. Look for the MySGI link underOnline Services on your motor licence issuer’s website or SGI’s website.
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Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), Hot 105.5 FM and the PEI government want you to “Leave the Phone Alone – Don’t text and drive.”
“We need to work toward zero tolerance of distracted driving,” said Amanda Dean, Vice-President, Atlantic, IBC. “Driver distraction is a factor in four-million collisions every year across North America. We have to bring that number down.”
Texting or talking on a cellphone is one of the most serious road-safety issues in Canada today. A texting driver is 23 times more likely to crash than a non-texting driver.
“The safety of travellers is my department’s top priority,” said Paula Biggar, PEI’s transportation, infrastructure and energy minister. “If drivers leave their mobile devices alone and focus on driving, we will reduce the risk to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.”
This year, the “Leave the Phone Alone – Don’t text and drive” campaign will introduce new social media features and IBC’s distracted driving simulator, where people can actually try to drive and text on a video simulator. In addition, the RCMP and police will run distracted driving checkpoints.
A person caught using a hand-held device while driving faces a $575 to $1,275 fine and five demerit points. Newly licensed drivers face an automatic 30-day suspension for a first offence and 90-day suspensions for subsequent offences. The penalties will be more severe if the offence results in injury or death.
Earlier this year, IBC launched its distracted driving campaign, #likelife. The campaign centres on a video that raises awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. The video has had more than 100,000 views on YouTube and Twitter.
“Since the launch of the ‘Leave the Phone Alone – Don’t text and drive’ campaign in 2013, nearly 12,500 Islanders have signed the pledge to leave their phone alone,” said Dean. “But we still have work to do in convincing all drivers that using your phone while driving is inherently dangerous and socially unacceptable.”
By signing the pledge, Islanders are agreeing to leave the phone alone when behind the wheel. Sign the pledge here.
For more information about distracted diving, click here.
About Insurance Bureau of Canada
Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, auto and business insurers. Its member companies make up 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. For more than 50 years, IBC has worked with governments across the country to help make affordable home, auto and business insurance available for all Canadians. IBC supports the vision of consumers and governments trusting, valuing and supporting the private P&C insurance industry. It champions key issues and helps educate consumers on how best to protect their homes, cars, businesses and properties.
P&C insurance touches the lives of nearly every Canadian and plays a critical role in keeping businesses safe and the Canadian economy strong. It employs more than 120,000 Canadians, pays $8.2 billion in taxes and has a total premium base of $49 billion.
For media releases and more information, visit IBC’s Media Centre at www.ibc.ca. Follow IBC on Twitter @InsuranceBureau and@IBC_Atlantic or like us on Facebook. If you have a question about home, auto or business insurance, contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC.
If you require more information, IBC spokespeople are available to discuss the details in this media release.
SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada
The newly-created Canadian Coalition on Distracted Driving (CCDD) has wrapped up its first ever meeting, a two-day working session in Ottawa where it began work on creating a National Action Plan to combat distracted driving. An initiative of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), Drop It And Drive and The Co-operators, the CCDD is the first coalition of its kind in Canada. The multi-sectoral group includes members from various levels of government, enforcement, academia, health, industry and communities. Their expertise is varied, including road safety research, injury prevention and health care, policy, enforcement, as well as the insurance, automotive and trucking industries.
At the meeting, a number of options were discussed and considered for possible inclusion in the National Action Plan. These included the identification of priority data and indicators that represent an important step forward in improving understanding of the issue. Other activities that received attention included an inventory of educational campaign materials and a resource centre to support agency efforts to raise awareness about the problem, particularly at a community level. The development of tools to inform industries about distracted driving’s impacts and facilitate leadership in the development of distracted driving policies was also a top priority.
“As a member of the Canadian Coalition on Distracted Driving, the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario understands the importance of tackling this problem in our province and across the country. Sharing strategies and data will assist us all in addressing this increasingly significant issue,” said John Lefebvre, Manager, Special Projects, Safety Policy & Education Branch, Ministry of Transportation of Ontario.
As part of its Drive Out Distraction program, The Co-operators entered into a partnership with TIRF aimed at reducing the incidence of distracted driving in Canada. In December, they released Distracted Driving in Canada: Making Progress, Taking Action, which provides a snapshot of the many initiatives across the country to address the problem. The report identified the need for a national action plan and recommended the creation of a national working group. This led to the establishment of the CCDD, which plans to release a national action plan later this year.
Also, as part of this partnership, TIRF will create a public online repository of data, information and resources that can serve as an easily accessible tool for stakeholders and others with an interest in the issue.
“The complexity of the distracted driving problem makes it a challenge to change behaviour, so it is critical that we invest time, energy and resources to develop an informed and evidence-based plan that is achievable, and that more importantly contributes to behaviour change,” said Robyn Robertson, President & CEO of TIRF. “The diversity of agencies that are participating in the Coalition speaks not only to the pervasiveness and seriousness of this issue, but also to their commitment to sharing expertise to find the most effective ways to keep Canadians safe.”
Distracted driving is widely considered a top priority by provincial and territorial governments and they, along with non-profits, researchers, industry and the media are engaged in activities designed to address the issue. However, there is currently no efficient means of exchanging information and outcomes at the national level, and coordination across the various groups of stakeholders is lacking. These are matters the national action plan will address.
“The Canadian Coalition on Distracted Driving brings together an impressive group of professionals who are committed to understanding the problem and taking action to reduce the number of unnecessary injuries and deaths on our roads,” said Kathy Bardswick, president and CEO of The Co-operators. “What the national action plan will do is promote better information-sharing and coordination across jurisdictions and between stakeholders, to ultimately enhance the effectiveness of our collective efforts to combat this significant societal issue.”
About the Traffic Injury Research Foundation:
The mission of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) is to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries. TIRF is an independent, charitable road safety research institute. Since its inception in 1964, TIRF has become internationally recognized for its accomplishments in identifying the causes of road crashes and developing programs and policies to address them effectively.
About Drop It And Drive:
Drop It And Drive (DIAD) is a national British Columbia-based organization that has presented its reality-based workshops to more than 50,000 students, faculty and workers in Canada and the United States since their launch in late 2010. Its mission is to prevent injuries and fatalities caused by distracted driving, distractions in the workplace and distracted walking. It actively promotes the need for societal change in order to effectively address road, pedestrian and workplace safety.
About The Co-operators:
The Co-operators Group Limited is a Canadian co-operative with more than $40 billion in assets under administration. Through its group of companies it offers home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products.
The Co-operators is well known for its community involvement and its commitment to sustainability. The Co-operators is listed among the Best Employers in Canada by Aon Hewitt; Corporate Knights’ Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada; and the Top 50 Socially Responsible Corporations in Canada by Sustainalytics and Maclean’s magazine. For more information visit www.cooperators.ca.
SOURCE The Co-operators