The death of a 62-year-old Gordon Head woman this month marks the fifth pedestrian death in Greater Victoria within the last year.
On Feb. 2 around 8:30 a.m., the woman was crossing at the intersection of Tyndall Avenue and Kenmore Road when she was struck by the driver of a southbound-travelling minivan.
She died two days later.
Not all the pedestrian-related collisions are fatal, but each one has an impact, says Sgt. Julie Fast, public relations officer for the Saanich Police Department.
“When you go to a pedestrian struck – especially a pedestrian who’s died as a result – it’s obviously hugely impactful for the pedestrian’s family and friends [and] the driver is also impacted, there’s no doubt on that,” Fast said. “But the officers, the first responders, the paramedics…we’re all human. We’re all in this together and we’re all going to feel the same emotions.”
Less than one month before the Gordon Head collision, on Jan. 11, a pedestrian was killed in Colwood near West Shore Parks and Recreation.
In late December a 68-year-old man was hit in North Saanich and died of his injuries.
On Aug. 27, two women were hit by a car that crossed the centre line in Central Saanich. One was killed, the other left in critical condition.
And on April 25, a man in his 30s was struck by a car on the Pat Bay Highway around 10:30 p.m.
Data from ICBC shows that, across the entire Island, there were 380 pedestrian-involved collisions reported in 2017 – 310 involved injuries and three of the incidents were fatal.
Fast told Black Press Media that every collision – fatal or not – is followed by an investigation.
Police look at everything from weather, visibility and mechanical issues to driver behaviour, medical conditions and possible distractions like devices, construction or even changes to the radio station that could cause a driver to look away from the road.
Data from the crashes is then used by Statistics Canada, ICBC, local municipalities, and as evidence if the incident results in charges.
Fast said there are steps both drivers and pedestrians can do to increase their safety.
“If you’re a pedestrian, you’re going to be on the losing end with a vehicle,” she said. “Pedestrians have to be just as defensive, and cognizant…and take the responsibility of their safety just as seriously as a driver of a vehicle.”
Fast had a few tips for pedestrians to stay safe on the street:
- Cross at marked crosswalks
- Take three seconds to check your surroundings before you enter a roadway
- Take out your headphones when entering the road
- Put your phone away when you step off the curb
- Wear light clothing or consider attaching some reflective lights to clothing, backpacks, purses etc.
- If you aren’t reflective, consider using your cell phone light at night to make yourself more visible to drivers
Fast said drivers have even more responsibility on the road because they are “driving a big piece of steel.”
- Don’t be distracted, stay focused
- Watch for traffic control devices
- Watch for people on the side of the road
- Scan from side to side as you’re driving
- Make sure headlights and tail lights are on when visibility is poor
- Pause, take some extra seconds at lights, intersections and yields to make sure you haven’t missed anything before you go