THE BLOG

Awareness, Better Winter Coat Can Help Prevent You From Getting Hit By A Car

02/21/2014 02:03 EST | Updated 04/23/2014 05:59 EDT

There is uniformity to some experiences. People will describe a roller-coaster ride or skydiving using the same terms. Pedestrians hit by a car also report consistent sensations.

You're on the side of the road. Hello! You're on the hood a car. There is massive understatement that accompanies these abrupt realizations.

The hood of the car is smooth and firm, somehow familiar. Briefly, you see the face of the driver -- a mask of uncomprehending horror -- framed by the steering wheel. The driver does the reflexive thing and slams on his brakes.

Again, you find yourself moving through space in a manner previously unexperienced. You find yourself on the pavement, your head where your feet ought to be. You sustain two separate injuries: impact and projectile.

So odd. So unexpected.

It is likely that it's dark. It is likely that it's raining. It is likely that it's winter.

A crowd may form. An ambulance comes. And nothing is ever the same again. The body is a perfect record of all insults and injuries. And this is a big injury. If you've been lucky enough to have survived it.

Each year in B.C., about 65 pedestrians don't survive a collision with a vehicle.

My sister-in-law, Rosalinda Macdougall, was one of the lucky ones. Lucky, if you count spending two months in hospital, having a steel plate in your leg, and requiring a cane to walk, as luck.

That's just the stuff you can see. The constant headaches and other pains you'd have to ask her about. She doesn't volunteer much about all that because where do you start? So, she carries on, raises her two school-aged daughters and being a wife. She doesn't work anymore because she lost her job following the accident. She'd been off work a lot in the year leading up to the accident, what with the surgery and the heart attack. Did I forget to mention that she'd just had a breast removed due to cancer and that the chemo had resulted in a heart attack?

A while back I needed a new winter coat. I wanted it to be the perfect winter coat: one that does more than keep me warm and dry; it should keep me safe. I worked with Maria Fonseca of Fashion Atelier in Vancouver to create such a garment. I had some ideas how visibility could be factored discreetly into everyday garments.

We came up with some genius additions. I retrofitted more coats, my own, and my kids. Everywhere I went, people remarked about their own near misses and how these adaptations could help keep them safe.

One thing lead to another. I found myself sitting opposite the man whose job it is to help British Columbians avoid preventable injuries: Dr. Ian Pike. Today I run pedviz.com.

Pedviz aims to provide inspiration and information on how you can stay safe on the streets. We're off to a great start. It seems everyone has a story about a near miss, either on the streets or behind the wheel.

Of the 2,300 British Columbians injured last year in pedestrian/vehicle collision, 65 died. Collisions rocket up by 80 per cent every November through to February. Factors are conspiring to see these numbers rise. Cities are open 24/7; more commuters dash to and from transit hubs; hybrid cars factor in another degree of silent complexity. Then add on issues like an aging population, delayed driver licensing and mushrooming urban densities.

The single biggest monkey wrench in the equation, however, is distraction. Pedestrians, and drivers alike, are not paying enough attention. Jaywalking ninjas in the rain were hard to see before the advent of distracted, texting jaywalking ninjas, but with the proliferation of smartphone, it's treacherous out there.

I'm happy to be involved with this issue. There are not many big problems in the world for which there are simple solutions. Pedestrian safety is easy. It just takes a little awareness and a little preparedness.

On Saturday, Feb. 22, Pedviz will be on site at West Elm Market on South Granville Street in Vancouver. Pedviz has worked with a variety of suppliers -- including 3H Craftworks, disabled adult workshop, to come up with some very cool, very discreet "vizbitz" to help you factor visibility into your wardrobe.

Please drop by and see what we're all about. Pedestrian/vehicle collision statistics are going to get worse ... unless we take responsibility for our own safety. Pedviz.com can help.

Visit pedviz and follow us on Facebook, or Twitter. I'd sure appreciate the support.