Crosswalks give pedestrians 'false sense of security,' CAA says
A teenage boy is in hospital after being hit at a crosswalk in Winnipeg's Charleswood neighbourhood.
The student, 16, who attends Oak Park High School and was on his way to class, was initially sent to hospital in unstable condition after the accident around 8 a.m. Thursday. He has since been upgraded to stable condition. His name has not been made public.
A car with a shattered windshield was parked near the intersection of Roblin Boulevard and Hunterspoint Road as police investigated.
Students found out about the incident when they arrived at school.
"I was saddened someone got hit,"said Grade 12 student Marley Ali. "People need to pay more attention to the road. It would suck if it happened to me."
"Motorists need to stop hitting people. Maybe they should get winter tires so they can stop easier," added Carter Petras.
Grade 12 student Zack Brown says his classmates are wondering who the student is.
"It's crazy it happened to someone I go to school with," he said. "It's one of those things you never expect to happen to someone you know. I don't know if I know him. It's crazy. This happened at a crosswalk. How can a driver miss that? People have to pay more attention — distracted driving and all that,"
There is no word yet on whether charges will be laid.
Ted Fransen, superintendent with the Pembina Trails School Division, said the boy was going to catch a bus when he was hit.
"He was thrown some distance [but] I understand he is doing well," Fransen said, adding some staff from the school visited the teen at the hospital. "We're relieved that it wasn't as bad as it could have been."
The accident comes a week after eight-year-old Surafiel Musse Tesfamariam died after being hit in a crosswalk on St. Anne's Road. The Grade 3 student was on his way to École Varennes school.
Jeannette Montufar, who works as a consultant with MORR Transportation in Winnipeg, says two pedestrians hit in two weeks, one of which was a fatality, is cause for concern.
Montufar, a former professor of civil engineering at the University of Manitoba who has helped Canadian cities put pedestrian safety measures into effect, says the crosswalk in the latest collision is typical of many others in Winnipeg: high traffic volume and road speeds of 60 km/h.
"One of the issues is when people press the button to cross they get a false sense of security that two barriers are going to come up from either side of the crosswalk and protect you," she said. "What that may do is remove the alertness you have as a pedestrian. And I always say to people you have to establish eye contact with the driver. You have to make sure people have seen you," Montufar said.
She says making sure pedestrians are safe is a complex issue that can't be fixed with a silver bullet.
"People who have been driving for years think they can multi-task. We can not do that. We need to concentrate on what's happening on the road so we can react to the unexpected," she said.
The city has been working to prioritize locations that will be upgraded from one type of crossing control to another. However, Montufar adds, accidents are rarely caused by a specific thing, but rather a number of things going wrong.
"It's very easy to jump to conclusions about who is at fault: To blame the driver. To blame the pedestrian. To blame the type of installation at the crosswalk," she said. "It's very easy to do that. It's important to see what comes out of the police investigation. Once they know what the results are, there is an opportunity to assess and see how we can make things better."