EDITORIAL: Don’t assume you’ll be seen

Road users of all kinds need to be aware of poor visibility conditions

We’ve all been there, driving down a poorly lit stretch of road in the pouring rain, desperately trying to make out the lane markers and trying to see past the windshield wipers screeching at full speed.

All of a sudden a cyclist or another car veers into your lane, or worse, your own car begins hydroplaning out of control.

It’s a nightmare no motorist wants to experience, but unfortunately it leads to tragic results seen too often by first responders. Slowing down for poor road conditions may be logical, but it’s a strategy often forgotten by drivers anxious to reach their destination and surging forward at dangerous speeds.

Between November and January, speed-related crashes resulting in injuries or fatalities increase by more than 50 per cent across the province, according to ICBC. There are on average 250 crashes a month in those months, including about 40 on Vancouver Island. Driving too fast for the conditions is a major factor.

It’s the time of year when the days get darker by the minute and the weather is a far cry from summer sunshine. During these winter months, many motorists find themselves spending more time behind the wheel after dark.

While it is crucial that motorists exercise more caution, pedestrians, cyclists and other road users share a responsibility to make themselves seen in the dark.

Non-drivers may think they’re visible to motorists, but wearing reflective clothing, installing lights on a bike, or carrying a flashing light of some sort is the best way to help ensure you’ll be seen.

The numbers are clear: motorists in general can see pedestrians and cyclists with reflective or flashing items from up to 500 feet away. Without such items – or worse, if you’re wearing dark clothing – that number drops down to 100 feet before most drivers have a chance of seeing you.

To the joggers, walkers, cyclists and other road users out there, don’t assume you’ll be seen. Leaving your safety to chance is not something you want to risk your life on.

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