Look I get it. I really do.
Time is precious and everybody’s always in a hurry. There are medical appointments, work schedules, family needs, errands to run and an endless list of demands on our time every single day.
I’m a reporter with inflexible deadlines, a driver’s license and a dog whose favourite word is ‘walk’. Whatever its flaws, Port aux Basques is usually a great town for walking, and if I can walk to an interview or to a destination I’ll usually choose to do it, depending on the weather.
But the crosswalks drive me absolutely crazy.
I’ve waited on the corner and watched four or five cars roll through before the sixth one will stop to let me cross. They’re not all speeding either, just making a choice to not less me cross while they roll on through without a moment’s hesitation.
I’ve watched parents with children in strollers or toddlers clinging to their fingers await an opening, elderly citizens with walkers or canes try to hurry across before the motorist speeds up, and other dog walkers try to restrain a beloved pet who is smart enough to recognize the purpose of a crosswalk while the motorists apparently don’t.
If you think I’m being harsh on motorists, you’re absolutely right.
In this province, statistically speaking there is nearly one fatality every single day. Transport Canada data reveals that pedestrians make up about 15 percent of all fatalities from vehicle collisions and still another 15 percent sustain serious injuries. That means Newfoundland and Labrador has the fourth highest rate of fatalities and the second highest rate of injuries, both of which are well above the national average.
That’s just not acceptable, and coupled with school about to resume and recent RCMP speeding reports that cited excessive speeds at multiple areas in town, it’s outright terrifying.
Not stopping for pedestrians waiting to cross at a designated is actually not optional either. Those four or five cars rolling through while I wait can be penalized heavily for failing to stop.
Under Section 125 (I) of the Highway Traffic Act, failing to yield right-of-way to a pedestrian in a crosswalk can result in fines of $115 and 2 demerit points off a driving license.
Pedestrians crossing outside of a designated crosswalk must yield right of way to approaching vehicles, but that also does not absolve a driver from using due care to avoid a collision.
So the next time you see someone waiting at a crosswalk please stop. Whatever momentary delay that inconveniences you pales in comparison to the one you’ll experience if you hit a pedestrian with your vehicle.