Joanne Banfield is all too familiar when things go wrong; as part of the Trauma Program, the Office for Injury Prevention at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto works to prevent traumatic injuries and injury-related mortality through community education, collaboration, research and innovation.
When it comes to pedestrian safety, Banfield cautions everyone to “cross the street as if your life depends on it.” She advises: “Visibility is key. Just as motorists turn on their lights and cyclists use reflectors or lights, we encourage all pedestrians, where possible and whether running or walking, to wear reflective clothing to help increase their visibility.”
The most common trauma injuries reported for pedestrians who were involved in collisions include head injuries, broken bones, hip and pelvic injuries and internal organ damage. Banfield notes they have seen an increase in major injuries in recent years.
How do pedestrian incidents occur? Banfield explains that distraction and inattention for both drivers and pedestrians, including cell phone use, are most often to blame, as well as people rushing to get to their destinations. Also, pedestrians that wear dark clothing cause a decrease in their visibility on the roadway and the addition of hats, scarves and heavier clothing can often create a “mummified” effect, limiting the individuals’ movement.
She notes that particularly high-risk locations for pedestrians include intersections and densely populated areas, while most incidents occur 1-1.5 km from the individual’s home, as people often become complacent in more familiar territory.