As the city grew darker earlier this fall, the calls became more frequent.
Pedestrians were being hit by cars, trucks, SUVs — motor vehicles — more often after our clocks fell back in early November.
It wasn’t just Kamloops, it was throughout B.C. Many incidents were fatal, including one involving a woman fatally struck in a crosswalk at Sixth and Victoria Street.
Some blamed the earlier darkness, others blamed distracted drivers and distracted pedestrians.
ICBC’s numbers for pedestrian/motor vehicle crashes between 2007 and 2011 back up the argument that with darkness comes more danger for people out walking.
January saw 13 crashes (note ICBC doesn’t use the term accident or collision) in total for those four years. February and March dropped slightly, to nine and eight, respectively. April — when we’ve sprung ahead — fell to a low of two.
During May to August, the crashes ran between four and six per month. Those would be the peak months for pedestrians and joggers to be out enjoying the warmth and sunshine, so you’d think perhaps the statistics would be higher.
September and October saw the numbers creep up to eight and nine again,
And when the clocks have changed in November and December, 14 pedestrians were struck each month.
How much those numbers are related to daylight savings time changes versus the daylight simply being shorter is not known. If it is the time shift that’s part of the reason for the pedestrian strikes, you’d think the morning should be safer, as we gain light at that time.
ICBC’s stats didn’t show what time of day the crashes occurred. They did show that most of the crashes took place in the busiest parts of town: downtown and the North Shore market area. That’s natural, as that’s where people will be walking.
A study by U.S. National Safety Council researchers showed more pedestrians died during evening rush hour in November than October.
Another study, for the Ontario chief coroner’s office, looked at pedestrian deaths for the year 2010. It showed the most dangerous time to be out walking was between 2 and 10 p.m., especially between Monday to Friday, in January.
More than half the fatal pedestrian collisions occurred in twilight or darkness. Visibility was clear in 95 per cent of cases.
So when we adjust our clocks, we need to adjust our driving habits, too. Our brains are still on summer hours as winter kicks in, and we need to be aware of that and compensate for that.
Daylight savings time isn’t the only factor in pedestrian/motor vehicle collisions, but it’s one that can be reduced with more vigilance, particularly from the time when we fall back every year until we spring forward again.