Pedestrian collisions on the rise; practicing road safety

Dec 5, 2023 | Pedestrian Safety, Road Safety

This has been a dangerous year for the City’s most vulnerable road users. Since the start of 2023, there has been 23 road collisions involving pedestrians and cyclist by drivers in Ottawa, and one in Gatineau.  

Of these collisions, 11 have been fatal.

Vulnerable road users are just that: vulnerable. While on the roads, they aren’t protected by a vehicle – this includes pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. In 2021, 32% of collision fatalities in Canada were vulnerable road users. Of vulnerable road users, those at the highest risk of fatality in the event of a collision are older/senior pedestrians, as well as children. 

We like to say that road safety is everyone’s responsibility. We strongly advocate for drivers to practice road safety, as 90% of road collisions are preventable. But as a pedestrian, you can’t control drivers. What you can do is take a few simple steps to help protect yourself from harm. We’re all responsible for our own actions on the roads and making safe choices can be the difference between getting home or not. 

  • Cross only at marked crosswalks or traffic lights, not in the middle of the block where there’s traffic or between parked cars.  
  • Remove headphones and put away your phone before crossing. This way you can hear and see what’s going on, you’re actively aware of your surroundings, and you have a good idea of when it’s safe to cross. 
  • Make eye contact with drivers before you cross. As cars slow down or stop at the intersection, look at the drivers and make sure they acknowledge you before you enter the road – especially at intersections with stop signs only. Never assume a driver can see you. 
  • At a traffic light, always come to a complete stop. This signals to drivers that you are waiting to cross. Look left, right, then left again, to make sure all cars have stopped. Cross at the beginning of a green light. Do not cross once the “Don’t Walk” signal begins to flash or once the light has turned yellow. Never cross on a red light. 
  • Increase your visibility so that you are catching the eye of drivers as they approach. Wear bright or light-coloured clothing, reflective strips, and/or blinking lights when walking in dusk or darkness. In a Statistics Canada study from 2018-2020, 21% of pedestrian fatalities occurring at night involved the pedestrian wearing dark clothing. 

Following these steps isn’t a safety guarantee, but it could make a life-and-death difference one day. If you would like to get more involved in road safety, we invite you to take the #RoadSMARTS Pledge. By taking the Road SMARTS Pledge, you Support Making All Road Travel Safe, which can help improve road safety for everyone. When road behaviours change, accidents can be reduced.  

 Remember: road safety is everyone’s responsibility.