A rash of recent incidents, including the death of a pedestrian on Goldstream Avenue in Langford, is prompting police to remind drivers, pedestrians and cyclists alike to slow down, take your time and be cautious.
West Shore RCMP Cpl. Kathy Rochlitz said the return of fair weather can bring out the worst in drivers, breeding overconfidence in good driving conditions. It also brings out more pedestrians and cyclists, as people emerge from a winter spent mainly indoors.
“Our days are getting longer and people are out enjoying the pleasant weather,” Rochlitz said. “So it’s a timely reminder to talk about some safety. … Everybody’s got to do their part.”
While no specific programs are in place as a response to the recent incidents, she said RCMP have identified road and traffic safety as priorities for enforcement this year. Police are making efforts to be more visible and are targeting specific behaviours, such as distracted driving from cell-phone use.
Pedestrians are reminded to make eye contact with drivers and cyclists before crossing the road and to take time to use marked crosswalks.
Drivers need to make eye contact with pedestrians at crosswalks, but also in intersections, Rochlitz said.
While drivers tend to keep a close eye on traffic, such as in a four-way stop, they sometimes fail to notice people crossing the road.
“(You’re) rushing it, trying to find that hole in traffic,” she said. When drivers have that sense of ‘I need to make a move, I need to go,’ she added, it creates trouble because they’re not paying attention to their full field of view.
Obeying amber lights – not racing to beat the red – increases intersection safety, especially when drivers in the opposite direction are waiting to turn left.
In general, drivers need to slow down, have patience and pay attention, Rochlitz said.
“People don’t give themselves five to 10 minutes of wiggle room. They’re (thinking), ‘I’ve got to get there. I’m late for work. I’m rushing home because I have to pick the kids up.’ All of those types of things play into these situations.”
Cyclists are reminded to ride on the right-hand side and to stay off sidewalks, unless the skill level or age of the rider makes it unsafe for them to be on the road.
Following these basic rules will help to avoid some of the incidents seen lately, Rochlitz said.
“When we are courteous and communicate with others, the systems work.”
Round, round we go
Roundabouts can be a source of confusion and frustration for drivers and pedestrians. Observing a few simple rules can help you navigate your way around:
• Signal to get off the roundabout so that those waiting to get on know it is safe to do so
• If a driver isn’t signalling, assume they are continuing around the roundabout and don’t try to pull in front of them
• Don’t enter the roundabout until you are sure it is safe to do so
• As you exit, watch for people on crosswalks and be prepared to stop