Look before you leap

Roughly seven years ago, then 14-year-old Rikki Hillmer was hit by a late model, full-sized pick-up truck while crossing 162 Ave. in Calgary’s southwest.

Clad in black, not wearing her glasses and rushing for the bus on her way to school, she ventured across the divided roadway and caused an accident that nearly killed her.

“It’s a pretty busy road,” said Hillmer. “There are four lanes and a big median.”

162 Ave. is a major thoroughfare connecting the communities of Bridlewood, Evergreen, Summerset and Shawnessy to Macleod Trail and the C-train. It sees a lot of traffic.

When Hillmer stepped onto the eastbound lane to cross the road, she was hit by a truck and thrown 30 feet.

Hillmer didn’t look. She got hit. She got hurt.

The ambulance arrived, stabilized her, and rushed her away to the children’s hospital.

“I had a broken pelvis, broken ankle, severe lacerations to my right leg and mental trauma.”

She spent the next three months in a wheelchair with two metal rods protruding from her abdomen, holding in place her splintered and screwed-together pelvis.

One of the very first lessons a parent tries to teach their child is to look both ways when they cross the road.

That is step one, because it’s the most basic of scenarios.

Kid comes to the end of the driveway and cars can come from two directions – either the left or the right – look both ways. Any cars coming, the parent asks? No? Then it’s safe.

Stats Canada doesn’t track vehicular homicides. The number is miniscule.

The Calgary Herald, in an article published on Feb. 19, says there is, on average, one accident per day involving an automobile and a pedestrian.

Canadian law says as soon as a pedestrian steps off the curb and onto the street, the pedestrian has the right-of-way.

However, who is right and who is wrong is irrelevant.

A car versus pedestrian contest will always end poorly for the pedestrian. The person will be injured – regardless.

“Ultimately, if you want to live, whether you’re right or wrong, you have to take responsibility as a pedestrian,” said Tlou Connery, both a Calgary driver with more than 25 years behind the wheel and more than 40 years as a Calgary pedestrian.

She has never been involved in a collision or been hit by a car herself.

The number of intentionally mowed down pedestrians is minute.

So, the vast number of daily accidents is just that – accidental.

Though legally the driver is at fault, in most cases, there may be reasons why that driver missed seeing the person.

The driver may have been temporarily blinded by the low prairie sun, sliding on ice from an unsalted street, not able to see the pedestrian because of their dark attire, distracted by a screaming child in the back seat or driving a vehicle in need of maintenance.

These are five scenarios, out of possible hundreds, that could cause a driver to err.

What has happened that a person’s need to feel right outweighs their need to feel safe?

The car is going to win regardless of who is right.

Pedestrians need to take personal responsibility and stop relying on others to take care of them.

Drivers will miss things and accidents will happen.

Do your part to avoid getting hurt and look before you leap.

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