Respect for pedestrians seems to be thing of the past

Latest death in Edmonton was large truck hitting person in wheelchair

Another pedestrian death in Edmonton this week jogged my memory for the number of pedestrian deaths overall that have been happening lately.

According to Edmonton media reports, “On Jan. 12, the man was crossing 50 Street at a marked crosswalk in an electric wheelchair when he was struck by a truck.” It was confirmed this weekend the victim died and apparently police are pondering charges.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but it’s not uncommon when walking as a pedestrian for me to feel unsafe with traffic around, particularly in large parking lots or major roads. Some of the things I’ve seen happen also concern me, mostly because death is frequently involved.

Perhaps the worst time period I experienced this was when I was working in St. Albert a few years ago. The number of pedestrians killed by traffic over a year and a half was disturbing. I can’t explain the nature of traffic in that city, but if you’re on foot, it’s almost like motorists intend to hit you.

One of the deaths was an elderly person who was backed over in a fast food joint’s parking lot. I have to assume the driver of the SUV involved either didn’t shoulder check or bother to check mirrors, or they would have seen the elderly person walking behind their vehicle. The SUV backed up and killed the pedestrian.

Another incident that happened in St. Albert was over by the hospital. A pedestrian was crossing a road to get to the hospital and was struck and killed by a vehicle. I saw the vehicle later in the wrecking yard, and the basketball-sized dent in the windshield showed exactly how that pedestrian died. The dent in the windshield was pronounced and suggested to me that the vehicle must have been driving a substantial speed before killing the pedestrian. I drove through that area myself hundreds of times when I lived there, and by obeying the speed limit and watching for pedestrians, I never had a problem.

Another incident brought to the media’s attention by the St. Albert RCMP was a close call near the downtown core. A pedestrian in a crosswalk reported a vehicle making a left-hand turn so close to them in the crosswalk, the pedestrian was struck by the vehicle’s mirror. The driver must have seen the pedestrian clearly, but apparently was in such a big hurry, the driver couldn’t wait a few seconds for the crosswalk to clear. Very close call.

My personal experiences mostly concern horrid driving in parking lots. It seems there is no respect for pedestrians anymore.

I had a close call recently where I was walking across a parking lot to a store, and apparently a driver wanted the parking spot next to me so badly they were willing to risk my life to get it. I would ask drivers to please wait for pedestrians to get past parking spots before swerving around them to park crookedly.

I’m not conceited enough to think this problem is unique to me, as obviously even 76 year old people in wheelchairs have this problem in Edmonton.

Over the past few years I’ve also heard from many firefighters and tow truck drivers about drivers who ignore pedestrians and emergency workers on the side of the road, despite flashing vehicle lights and yellow vests.

Drivers, please do me a favour and slow down slightly for a few seconds. Whatever you’re rushing to isn’t worth someone’s life.

Stu Salkeld is editor of The Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the paper.

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