January is ‘Intersection Safety’ month for a reason

The Alberta Transportation, Office of Traffic Safety is focusing on Intersection Safety for the month of January (and for good reason.)

Do you stop at every stop sign you encounter? Not just a glance side-to-side and a roll through, but a real stop. Often times we hear drivers say: “Well, every time I’m here there’s no one around. So this one time it’s okay not to stop, right?”  Unfortunately, this type of complacency has shown us just how deadly it can be.

  • In Alberta, in 2013, three of the top five most frequently identified improper driver actions for drivers in casualty collisions were making a left turn across the path of an on-coming vehicle (12.9%), committing a stop sign violation (7.8%), and disobeying a traffic signal (7.2%).
  • In Canada, 28% of fatalities and 40% of serious injuries from collisions, involved an intersection.
  • In Canada, more than half of all intersection fatalities and almost three-quarters of serious injuries occur in urban areas.
  • Failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk carries a fine of $575 plus 4 demerit points.

There are several key communicators, which vehicle operators can utilize to keep other drivers and pedestrians safe.

  1. Always look in all directions prior to proceeding into or through an intersection, and be prepared for the unexpected.
  2. Scan into the distance of the roadway, beyond the intersection to determine the flow of traffic and if there are any emergency vehicles coming.
  3. Check what human traffic is in or about to enter the crosswalk area.
  4. Always drive defensively and remain alert.

For pedestrians, there are also a few ways to aid in your own safety and mitigate potential danger prior to crossing the street or entering an intersection.

  1. Always make eye contact with the driver before you enter the crosswalk or start to cross.
  2. Always abide by pedestrian traffic signs and signals.
  3. Remove distractions like headphones, so you can hear what is going on around you, especially when in or around an intersection.

Intersections are busy and can be very dangerous. Pedestrians, cyclists and vehicle operators must be alert at intersections and avoid distractions, such as electronic devices, headphones and cell phones.  It is imperative that we all STOP at all stop signs.  Failure to stop at a stop sign results in a $287 fine and 3 demerits.  At a stop sign, drivers are required to come to a complete stop, which means the wheels of the vehicle must not be moving.  This complete stop gives the driver the opportunity to look for oncoming traffic, pedestrians, and/or cyclists. AND in rural Alberta, this traffic could consist of kids on quads or riders on horseback.

If everyone paid closer attention to surroundings, obeying signs and signals, we could reduce the number of incidents, accidents and fatalities at our intersections in Alberta. Let’s all help Alberta Transportation, Office of Traffic Safety with their goal of bringing awareness to intersection safety!

Blog Author: Lorri Christensen | Rogers Stieg Transportation Insurance Ltd.
References: Office of Traffic Safety/Alberta Transportation

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