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Police blitz highlights jaywalking dangers

A police investigator surveys the scene of a fatal pedestrian accident in Surrey last year. - Leader file photo
A police investigator surveys the scene of a fatal pedestrian accident in Surrey last year.
— image credit: Leader file photo

Three hundred and fifty people have been cited for jaywalking in Surrey in the last two months, as Surrey RCMP attempt to stem the bloodshed on local streets.

Pedestrians aren’t faring well on Surrey roads.

Over the span of three days earlier this year, three pedestrians were hit by vehicles – including one fatally.

On Jan. 21, a 20-year-old woman was killed when she was hit by a semi-truck at 104 and King George Boulevard.

The next morning, Jan. 22, an 81-year-old man, who police said is deaf, was hit by a car at 139 Street and 104 Avenue. He was jaywalking at the time, and was taken to hospital with minor injuries.

And on Jan. 23, a 33-year-old man was hit by a van at 108 Avenue and King George Boulevard. He was walking at a lighted crossing, with the light, when a van turned right, crashing into him. He suffered severe bruising from the accident.

Last year in Surrey there were 17 fatal motor vehicle accidents. Eight of them – almost 50 per cent – involved pedestrians, a figure police say has been consistent over the years.

Regionally, the average is 30-per-cent pedestrian involvement, and provincially, it’s 15 per cent.

The bottom line, police say, is the public – both drivers and pedestrians – need to get educated about road awareness.

Following January’s fatalities, Surrey RCMP launched a ticketing blitz called “Just Don’t Jaywalk,” and in the last two months have handed out 350 citations to people failing to used marked crossings.

By comparison, Vancouver officers wrote 334 jaywalking tickets in all of last year.

Police say there are several factors leading to the carnage on Surrey roads.

Among them are:

• Speed: Both pedestrians and drivers aren’t leaving enough time to get to their destination. Drivers are travelling above the posted speed limit, and pedestrians aren’t taking the few minutes it takes to get to a crosswalk, opting instead to jaywalk.

• Distractions: Again, both drivers and pedestrians are paying attention to things other than the road. Drivers are spending time on cellphones, tuning radios, or eating and sipping coffee, while pedestrians are often distracted by mobile devices.

“Although we always blame the distraction on drivers, pedestrians have to make sure they are not distracted as well,” said Surrey RCMP Cpl. Bert Paquet.

• Intersection awareness: Drivers have to be extremely aware of a multitude of things at intersections. Often, drivers are not watching for the unexpected, such as a pedestrian stepping off the curb. Eye contact is crucial to both drivers and pedestrians so that each is comfortable with what the other is doing.

If a crash does occur, Paquet says one of the most serious mistakes a driver can make is leaving the scene of the accident, noting a call for assistance could save the life of the person hit.

If a driver leaves the scene of an accident, they are guilty of a hit and run. What was an offence under the Motor Vehicle Act (punishable by a ticket) becomes a criminal matter and could involve jail time, Paquet said.

Surrey Mounties will continue to hammer home the above messages by handing out citations to people violating the law.

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