April 19, 2012
“Whoa! Look at that driver! He’s talking into an iPhone – right in front of his face!” yelled my passenger recently as we passed through the intersection of Main and Terminal in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Was the driver talking to Siri?
It’s likely that most of us see examples of this bad behaviour all too often, despite BC’s ban on hand-held devices and the $167 fine levied for infractions – not to mention the risk of death or injury to oneself or (even worse) an innocent person in the vicinity.
In BC, vehicle crashes are the number one cause of traumatic work-related deaths, according to WorkSafeBC statistics. On average, approximately 30 workers in BC are killed each year while driving, and distracted driving, such as cell phone use, is a key factor in these crashes.
The DriveCellSafe.com website says 25 per cent of vehicle crashes each year can be attributed to drivers being distracted – and most of the distraction is caused by hand-held devices.
What can be so important that they are willing to risk such serious consequences? Is it just another instance of “it won’t happen to me”? Regardless of the reasons, I feel very angry to see it – and I’ve heard a lot of people who feel the same way.
If you’ve got any tips for preventing distracted driving, I’d like to hear about them in the Comments section. Tell me where you are from and what traffic is like in your region. Also, what kinds of “distracted driver” campaigns are in your jurisdiction? Check out this video (it’s not shockvertising) from Preventable.ca.
More information on driving safely at work can be found at the Road Safety at Work website
September 28, 2011
Getting to work can be a safety issue in itself – when you think about cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians sharing so much of the same space. The City of Vancouver reports 3,500 workers ride bicycles to jobs in downtown Vancouver each day. That’s a lot of road-sharing! This video shows how they’re dealing with it in Boston.
August 16, 2011
Four pedestrians were killed and three were seriously injured by cars in Vancouver within 10 days this summer. So far in 2011 (seven months into the year) there have been 12 pedestrian fatalities. In all of 2010, nine pedestrians were killed – which is still too many.
These sad numbers are from a Vancouver Province article that reads “Vancouver Police have issued a crackdown on motorists, pedestrians and cyclists after a rise in traffic-related fatalities in the city.”
I followed up with Sgt. Paul Ballard of the VPD Traffic Section.
“We’ve come out in the media to speak to pedestrian safety,” he said. “We want to reiterate our safety message, and say: ‘Don’t be the next one that’s out there.’”
Sgt. Ballard said the VPD is using a “Three E” approach to traffic safety: education, enforcement, and engineering. As far as tickets go, they will range from $86 to 121 depending on which parts of the B.C Motor Vehicle Act or Vancouver Street and Traffic Bylaw 2849 have been violated. They also are filming some new public safety announcements that will be out in September – using Sgt. Ballard’s voice.
What are pedestrians doing wrong?
Sgt. Ballard has been with the VPD for 32 years – 11 of them in traffic division. I asked him to tell me the worst things he sees pedestrians do.
“The most dangerous thing you can do is stop paying attention when you are out in live traffic – people with their heads down, paying attention to their social media, tapping away with their thumbs and they’re not really keeping their heads up and paying attention to their surroundings,” he said.
Another bad behaviour he sees is people at crosswalks rushing across the street when the big, red hand starts to flash.
“It means ‘don’t walk,’ but I think the general impression people have is: ‘better hurry up because it’s going to go to solid red here,’” he said.
Pedestrians also endanger themselves by emerging from parked cars to cross mid-block. Some cross wide, multi-lane streets when there’s a curve in the road. They can’t see what’s coming and drivers can’t see them.
Some pedestrians stand way too close to traffic.
“People will stand on the brink of the curb or one step into the roadway as they wait for the walk signal to come. What difference does it make if you’re five steps back? If a car loses control suddenly, you have some buffer room to get out of the way.”
So be careful out there and refresh your memory with these pedestrian safety resources:
ICBC’s top five pedestrian safety tips for parents – issued July 5, 2011
Walk This Way! Taking Steps for Pedestrian Safety – from the Centers for Disease Control
February 03, 2011
A guy from my grad class died after being hit by a forklift a few years ago.
Back in elementary school, he was one of the rowdier boys on the playground. Once, at the paperboy shack, he put my little brother’s stack of newspapers in dog poo, then apologized for it at a pub 20 years later. Shortly after, we heard he’d died.
Protecting workers near mobile equipment
I thought about my old classmate when I read about a “proximity detector” in a newsletter from WorkSafeBC’s Research Secretariat, which is funding part of this project by Pro-Active Safety Systems Technology Inc.
“You get no second chance with mobile equipment,” said co-inventor Richard Shervey, an industrial electrician. “There’s no crumple zones and they’re made out of solid steel. When they hit you, most of the time the worst happens. All it takes is one second of inattention.”
Each year more than 1,000 workers in BC are injured or killed in incidents involving forklifts and other mobile equipment like log loaders, bulldozers, and backhoes. Read more