Ensuring pedestrians are safe is the duty of both the driver and the pedestrian. These obligations are not only as moral citizens but are also legal in nature. The Motor Vehicle Act includes provisions that place a certain duty of care on both motorists and pedestrians.
Unless they are otherwise controlled by traffic signals, pedestrians have the right of way within a crosswalk or when stopped facing a crosswalk. However, vehicles have the right of way for any other roadway that does not have a crosswalk. As a pedestrian, you cannot go out in front of traffic when it is impractical for the driver of the vehicle to stop in time. If a sidewalk is provided, it is unlawful for the pedestrian to walk along an adjacent highway.
Aside from any specific provision in the Motor Vehicle Act, no pedestrian or motorist is relieved of their duty to exercise a reasonable amount of care. Below are some safety tips for both motorists and pedestrians to ensure that all parties are taking care:
Important Tips Pedestrians Need to Know:
- Make sure when you approach a crosswalk that you stop, look left and right, and wait for the WALK signal or push button to turn on overhead flashing lights if available.
- Make sure that you continue to keep an eye out for oncoming vehicles once you have entered the crosswalk, especially turning vehicles.
- Make sure that cars are planning on stopping. Not all drivers obey or see traffic signals.
- It is always a good idea when possible to make eye contact with the drivers and wait for them to stop.
- If a red flashing hand comes up before you enter the crosswalk, do not try to rush across. If the light turns red while you are in the crosswalk, you may finish crossing.
- If one car has stopped, make sure to look around that car before crossing further into the crosswalk. Cars may attempt to pass and may not see the pedestrian trying to cross.
Motorist Safety Tips:
- Come to a complete stop at least 10 metres before a crosswalk.
- Be alert for children – they can often dart out into traffic without waiting for the appropriate traffic signal or for cars to come to a complete stop.
- Wait until pedestrians have crossed the street completely before proceeding.
- Never pass stopped or slowed vehicles at crosswalks. Take extra care on multi-lane roads. Passing a vehicle that has stopped at the crosswalk is an offence under the Motor Vehicle Act.
- Slow down – studies have shown that if a car hits a pedestrian at 60km/h, there is a 93% chance of fatality. At 50km/h, that chance of pedestrian fatality is reduced to about 73% and if speed is reduced to 30km/h, there is a 5% chance of fatality.
The Bottom Line
As a pedestrian or a motorist, you have a duty to exercise a reasonable amount of care in all circumstances. The Motor Vehicle Act provides certain guidelines for exercising that care. If you or someone you know has been involved in a pedestrian/vehicle collision, it is important to discuss with your lawyer the ramifications of the duty imposed on both the pedestrian and the driver.