I read recently the very first “DON’T WALK” sign for pedestrians was installed February 5, 1952 in New York City. This was done because of the dramatic increase in pedestrian fatalities on the busy streets of the city. Today these are in widespread use throughout the world. The greatest chance for a pedestrian to get injured or killed is in a town or city. I can certainly attest to that as I live in one.
In Canada statistics compiled by Transport Canada for the 10-year period between 1992 and 2001 show some interesting things about accidents between pedestrians and motor vehicles. (These are the most recent statistics available.)
- Pedestrian fatalities averaged 416 per year and decreased 24.1 percent over the 10-year period.
- Pedestrian injuries averaged 14,252 per year and decreased 10.2 percent from 1992 to 2001.
- Overall males represented 61 percent of pedestrian fatalities while females accounted for 39 percent of fatalities.
- The 65+ age group accounted for 27 percent and 39 percent of male and female pedestrian fatalities, respectively. Over the period, male fatalities over 64 years old decreased 12.7 percent and over 64 year old female fatalities decreased 30.4 percent.
- Pedestrian fatalities decreased 24.1 percent compared to a decrease of 20.7 percent for all road users including pedestrians.
- Pedestrian fatalities were down 20 percent among males and down 30 percent among females.
- Pedestrian fatalities in urban areas represented 69.5 percent of all pedestrian fatalities over the 10 years.
- For pedestrians over 64 years of age, 85 percent of the fatalities occurred in an urban area.
- Pedestrian injuries dropped 10 percent – decreases of 13 percent in male injuries and 7 percent in female injuries, while all road user injuries decreased 11.5 percent.
- An average of 95 percent of pedestrian injuries occurred in urban areas.
- From 1992 to 2001, a total of 4,162 pedestrians died from injuries suffered in collisions with motor vehicles and 142,515 were injured.
The report finds that the 65+ age group accounts for the greatest number of fatalities. This is a cause for concern because that age group is rapidly increasing every year. A key finding of the report related to this group:
Most pedestrian fatalities in the 65+ age group occurred in urban areas (85 percent) and most occurred at intersections. The report doesn’t give a reason for more accidents within this age demographic.
Here are some pedestrians that I have noticed and wonder why more of them aren’t run over:
– iPOD listeners
– cell phone talkers
– men eyeing pretty women oblivious to everything else
– women who like to put on make-up on the run
– avid readers who insist on turning pages on the run.
Sadly these pedestrian encounters with motor vehicles are preventable. So when walking in the city, keep your eyes open and your head up. Stop looking at that pretty girl, and for heavens sake pay attention to other things when you’re chattering away on that cell.
Transport Canada, Fact Sheet TP 2436E, RS-2004-01E, December 2004, Pedestrian Fatalities and Injuries, 1992-2001