Pedestrians aren’t benefiting from improvements in traffic safety
Overall, driving in British Columbia has gotten much safer in the past decade, with traffic fatalities decreasing for most groups. However, as 24 Hours Vancouver reports, one group that has not shared in that success is pedestrians. While driving has become safer for motorists, serious pedestrian accidents now account for a greater share of overall traffic injuries and fatalities in the province. The worrying trend has led to calls for new measures to be instituted, including legal and infrastructure changes that are designed to protect vulnerable road users.
A recent B.C. government report found that, as a proportion of overall traffic accidents, serious injuries involving pedestrians had risen from 14.9 percent in 2005 to 19 percent in 2014. In terms of fatalities, pedestrians accounted for 19 percent of traffic fatalities in 2014, up from 15 percent in 2005.
When all vulnerable road users, including cyclists and pedestrians, are included then those figures become even more disturbing. According to CBC News, vulnerable road users accounted for 45.7 percent of overall serious traffic injuries in 2011, up from 38.7 percent in 2007. Vulnerable road user fatalities also increased to 34.9 percent of overall traffic fatalities in 2013, up from 31.7 percent in 2009.
Those increases come at a time when the proportion of deaths caused by other factors, such as drunk driving, have declined significantly. The worrying trend has led to a number of calls for improving road safety for pedestrians and cyclists. B.C.’s provincial health officer released a report in March, for example, that called for lowering the default speed limit in municipalities and treaty lands to 30 km/h and imposing new restrictions on alcohol limits for new drivers.
Others have called for infrastructure changes, such as giving pedestrians lead times at intersections and creating advanced stop lines to warn motorists of upcoming crosswalks. Many safety experts have also pointed out that distracted driving plays a significant role in pedestrian and cycling accidents and have called for greater crackdowns on motorists who text or talk on the phone while behind the wheel.
The aftermath of an accident
For pedestrians and cyclists, the aftermath of an accident can be especially confusing. Such accident victims are often unaware of what their rights are and many have no idea if they are able to pursue ICBC claims. The fact is that ICBC claims are available for pedestrians and cyclists who have been hurt in an accident. However, because making such claims can be complicated and difficult, it is important to speak to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer can help clients understand how the ICBC claims process works in their particular situation and what steps can be taken to maximize the likelihood of a favourable settlement.
- 24 Hours Vancouver. “Steady climb seen in pedestrian fatalities.”. By Michael Mui.
- CBC News. “B.C. health officials recommend tough new rules for drivers.” . By Rafferty Baker.