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Highlighting the need for enhanced road safety this fall.

Elisa Birnbaum October 22, 2020
Two men carrying a coffee walking across a crosswalk.

It’s that time of year again when we bid adieu to long days, the pool gets its final lap and our shorts switch over to pants. This summer was unlike any we’ve experienced before, the pandemic having transformed our lives in numerous ways. 

But the fall is here. And, with the cooler weather and shorter daylight hours, the changing season requires us to take extra care on our roads. “Foremost it needs to be said that road and pedestrian safety is a shared responsibility,” says Raymond Chan, Manager of Government Relations at CAA SCO. “People should practice care and caution at all times, whether they’re commuting, using four wheels, two wheels, or their feet.”

Survey demonstrates changing mobility habits.

It’s an especially important ask this year considering the greater number of people on our streets. While pedestrian incidents increase every year at this time, the latest research indicates the potential for harm is even higher today thanks to COVID-19. 

According to the results of a CAASCO survey conducted this July, respondents indicated they were more likely to walk and bike in their pursuit of social and physical distancing due to the ongoing pandemic. “We saw 16% of respondents cycling at least once a week during the pandemic and a rise in foot traffic with respondents identifying walking 1 to 3 times a week before the pandemic, and are now more likely to walk 4 to 7 times per week,” says Chan. These numbers are in line with a CAA National survey in June that, among cyclists, 30% increased their cycling activity. “These modes of transportation will become even more popular as this goes on.”  

Getting back to a routine.

As COVID-19 restrictions continue to lift, we are returning to some semblance of normalcy. With kids going back to school, we will soon see increased traffic on our roadways. Drivers who may have gotten used to speeding through local roads due to lighter traffic over the past six months will need to adapt. “Motorists need to ensure that they’re obeying speed limits and are aware of blind spots when making turns at intersections or approaching school zones,” says Chan. Of course, the ongoing pandemic means we’re facing additional obstructions. People are wearing masks, for example, which can impact their line of sight. Motorists need to appreciate that reality and be sensitive to it. 

Get a FREE reflector tag* before Daylight Saving Time.

CAA is once again offering free reflector tags at CAA Stores this fall. The markers, which can be attached to backpacks and jackets, help make pedestrians and cyclists wearing them more visible. This is especially important after November 1, 2020 when the clocks turn back and we lose an hour of afternoon daylight. As such, all road users need to use extra caution on our roads. Find your nearest CAA Store here and stop by for up to four free tags per family.

CAA reflector tags

Rules to live by.

Considering the heightened safety concerns on our roads this fall, everyone can play their part. If you’re a pedestrian, cross only at designated intersections – whether signalized, crosswalks or midway cross points. Try to make eye contact with motorists at intersections. Make them aware that you’re present and be clear on what your intentions are, whether waiting for the light to change or crossing the road, explains Chan.

Distractions are a part of life so we need to be extra aware of our surroundings. And try to avoid letting those distractions cause unnecessary harm. Don’t text or talk on the phone, for example, when crossing the road or cycling. 

CAA also recommends that people on bikes ride with traffic, use their hand signals to communicate their intentions and use their front and rear lighting at night or in low visibility situations.  

And let’s be mindful of society’s most vulnerable, senior citizens. They may have mobility and sight challenges. They may need more time to cross our roads or be using assisted devices. Drivers need to remain calm, courteous and patient with these important members of our society. 

Maintenance is key.

Finally, it’s vital to give your car a full checkup. Is your headlight system working? Are your tires properly inflated? Are your windshield wiper blades doing their job? Do you have enough wiper fluid in your car? As long as everyone follows the rules and takes proactive steps, the change in season can be a safe one, shares Chan. “At CAA, we want to make sure everyone is getting where they’re going in a safe and efficient manner.” 

For more information on pedestrian and road safety, visit: caasco.com/pedestrian