Originally published as a column on Monday, October 19, 2020 on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News.

It was not the fact that the car in front of me was driving faster than 30km/h in the school zone on Summit. Drivers can often and inadvertently find themselves going 50 in a school zone, which is why reminders are a must.

What irked me was seeing what happened after. As soon as a bunch of kids and their parents crossed, and while the light was still red, the driver took off, going full speed through the rest of the school zone.

A case for a hefty fine indeed. I wish there were a well concealed cop car at every school zone in town. Appropriately large fines could go to the food bank or towards the needs of that respective school.

A few months ago, I watched a video depicting what happens when a car goes 40km/h versus 30km/h and hitting a pedestrian. The 10 kilometers per hour makes the difference between life and death.

There are studies showing that fatal and severe injury collisions near schools decreased by 45 percent when the speed was lowered to 30km/h.  

Another study concluded that a 25km/h speed limit in school zones can eliminate the risk of severe injury collisions. You can have a read here.

It’s not just kids though. Barely a month goes by without news of at least one pedestrian hit by a car. Many of the victims are senior citizens. Sometimes, pedestrians are lucky to survive, but most times the collision is fatal.

According to ICBC, 57 pedestrians and killed on average in BC yearly, and 2,600 people are injured in crashes across British Columbia. All cases have one thing in common: they are all avoidable.

Days are getting shorter and roads slicker as winter approaches. We need as many reminders as possible of the horrors that could happen when speed and/or phone distraction are mixed in.

We all remember the heartbreaking story of Jennifer Gatey, who was fatally hit while waiting at the bus stop on November 4, 2016. It was the eve of her 17th birthday. That the guilty driver who left the accident scene and also tried to conceal the signs of the deadly collision was given but a 10-month sentence shows that justice is almost never served when it comes to such cases.

Or the story of Lucy Phua, the 54-year-old TRU employee who less than a year ago and was fatally hit by a truck while legally crossing at McGill Road and University Way. Her family is still waiting for an apology from the driver who took her life.

There are many others, and in each case, there one thing that comes to mind and painfully so: collisions like that are avoidable.

Just pay attention, more so in the fall and winter when it gets dark earlier and many people are wearing dark clothing. Rain or snow increase the risk. Put your phone away and mute it if needed. One peek while behind the wheel could cost someone their life. Just don’t.

I like to think that when we walk, we have the right of way. Theoretically we do, but real life has it different. As a pedestrian, assumptions and expectations should be left at home. There’s a lot we could do to keep safe.

Don’t check your phone while walking, and definitely not while crossing. Check intersections thoroughly before crossing and stay back rather than go for the Russian roulette of running across a street.

Rush is never an excuse for putting someone’s life, your own included, in danger. And while watching out for ourselves as pedestrians is vital, as drivers, we ought to always remember that we’re the bigger guy on the road and the responsibility to keep everyone safe is solely ours. Please do your part.