How do I stay safe as a pedestrian?

The best way to be safe while walking around traffic is to follow the rules of the road, obey traffic signals and signs and stay visible.

According to Transport Canada, almost 15% of road traffic deaths in Canada involve pedestrians. Drivers and pedestrians both have a shared responsibility to make our roadways safe.

As a pedestrian, you should always walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, you must walk on the side of the road that faces traffic.

Crossing the Road

Avoid crossing a road in the middle of a block or between parked cars. Cross at areas marked for pedestrian crossing instead. These are usually located at road intersections.

When crossing at a traffic light, it is safest to start crossing when the pedestrian light turns green or when the "Walk" signal is on. Be careful if the "Don't Walk" signal is flashing. This means that the pedestrians' turn for crossing will be over soon. Never cross when the red light for pedestrians is on and steady. Doing so is called "jaywalking" and it is illegal. The police can give you a fine for jaywalking.

In Ontario, vehicles can turn right on a red traffic light at most intersections, even if the pedestrian "Walk" signal is on. Although cars are supposed to let pedestrians go first, look out for right-turning vehicles before you start to cross the road.

Before crossing, stick your arm out to let drivers know that you want to cross. If possible, make eye contact with the drivers. When traffic has stopped, you can begin crossing the road.

Stay Visible

It may be difficult for motorists to see you when it is dark or when the weather is bad. Wear bright, light-coloured or reflective clothing.

As a Parent

Show your child how to cross the road safely. Explain how to look both ways before crossing and insist that they do not run. You can also teach your child how to be safe around school buses and other big vehicles.

For More Information

  • Pedestrian Safety - This webpage has simple safety suggestions for both pedestrians and drivers. It also covers what parents should teach their children about pedestrian safety. From the Ministry of Transportation.
  • Traffic Safety for Children Aged - Tips for keeping young children safe on the road. From the City of Toronto.
  • Walking: The Activity of a Lifetime [PDF] - A booklet on how to set up a walking program to stay healthy. From the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.
  • Walking: Overcoming the Weather - Tips for dressing appropriately when walking under Canada's extreme temperatures. From Walk and Roll Peel.

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Last updated: October 27, 2015 4001580