With fall comes shorter days, and rainy times. This time of year is ripe for those looking to be seriously injured while moving about. Here are the top four ways you can do that without even thinking.
1. On your smartphone
Both drivers and pedestrians have a greater risk of suffering from a preventable injury while using their mobile devices. Driving distracted, or walking without paying attention to your surroundings increases the likelihood of a crash about 10 fold. Cell phone companies could soon offer a “Talk, Text and Crash” plan.
However, some of you might not want to get into a car crash. Before cell phones were mainstream, we were able to function just fine while driving or walking without constantly being connected. Today, the easiest way to achieve this is by downloading one of many free apps from iTunes or Google Play Store that allow you to auto-respond while you’re unavailable. Apps like Safest Text Auto Reply will respond for you by letting your contact know you’ll get back to them shortly.
2. Falling asleep at the wheel
We’ve all had a few times when we’ve been a little tired before getting behind the wheel. But it’s not like driving requires that much thought or attention, right?
The truth is dosing off behind the wheel is a recipe for a crash. If you’ve had a long night or day and can’t keep your eyes open, don’t get behind the wheel, but call a friend for a ride instead. Or, if it hits you while you’re driving, pull over immediately and take a rest. It’s better to be late to your getting to your destination than getting into a car crash.
3. Careless cycling
With so many designated bicycle lanes in Vancouver, it’s often easier to get around on two wheels then it is on four. Zipping through during rush hour traffic is the best way to get from point A to point B and without the hassle of finding parking. But who wants to wear those pesky helmets anyway? They ruin your hair, make it harder to listen to your iPod while riding and of course, they’re really ugly. And did you know that the best way to get hit by a car while riding your bicycle is to not signal when turning? And make sure to leave those lights at home, especially now that it’s getting dark earlier.
Thankfully in Vancouver, the bicycle lanes are there to help keep cyclists safe. But it’s also important to follow road rules when on the road and to always wear your helmet. After all, it’s the law in BC. If you’re that worried about your hair, pack a brush and some hairspray for when you get to your destination. Always signal when turning right or left so that cars know which direction you’re going in. And remember, in a duel between a 4,000 lbs of metal versus a 20 lbs bicycle who do you think is getting out alive?
When you’re in a rush and need to catch the bus and it’s coming, why bother walking all the way to the intersection to cross safely? The best way to make sure you catch that bus on time (and increase your chances of getting hit by either the bus or a car) is to jaywalk. Cross the street wherever you feel like it.
Yes, the bus is coming. Yes, you’re on the wrong side of the road. No, the car is not going to be able to stop in time. Remember that the driver needs to see you and realize they need to stop (that’s called driver reaction) and then the car needs time to stop as well. That 4,000 lb car doesn’t stop in a split second, and during rainy season it’ll take longer with slippery road conditions. You might know what you’re doing, but the drivers don’t always; they have other things to consider while driving.
But seriously now…
Most of us believe nothing will ever happen to us while we’re walking, cycling or driving. Our perception is that things like that don’t happen that often in Vancouver, and they certainly don’t happen to us. After all, you’re still careful when you’re texting and driving, or jaywalking. But the reality is, it CAN happen to you and it probably will if you don’t start changing the way you think about road safety. Be safe and stay alert.