Christmas is coming, the nights are getting dark…and pedestrians are putting themselves at risk.
With Christmas approaching, police forces up and down the land are mounting campaigns to deter people from drinking and driving.
It’s noble enough in its ambition, but is driven in part by emotive stories of those who sadly have lost their lives owing to drunken drivers. It happens and there is no excuse for anybody under the influence of alcohol to be behind the wheel.
Recent research reported in the Press, however, suggests that many more road accidents are caused these day by drivers under the influence of drugs rather than alcohol so should that perhaps be the focus of road safety campaigning and Police Christmas crackdowns?
There is a third and greater danger on the roads at Christmas: pedestrians, whether under the influence of drink or drugs or just careless about their personal safety.
It is winter, it is dark and as a pedestrian you have probably dressed warmly and if you are going out of the evening. But you almost certainly aren’t wearing a high-vis jacket. Which of us would? Besides who’d want to be mistaken for a Parisian rioter?
So there you are, after a night out with the lads or lasses, making your way home, crossing the roads at their junctions rather than walking 20 yards to the proper crossings. Why would anyone bother with that, so tiresome to have to walk an extra twenty yards to cross in safety?
Just try driving through the Westgate junction or the Station Road West junction. It’s bad enough during the day let alone at night: there are deathwish pedestrians are everywhere.
Drivers had better keep a good look out because if you get run over it’ll be their fault and they’ll get prosecuted for it.
Of course that won’t exactly be a lot of consolation to you lying in hospital with broken bones, or possibly brain damage.
We all have to take steps to ensure our personal safety and that of the friends we’re with on our night out. I don’t expect anyone to wear a high-vis on a night out in town but if you’re wearing dark clothes cross on crossings or where there is good street lighting.
You may be able to see the cars but don’t assume that the driver can see you, he may be blinded by somebody else’s badly adjusted headlight or the newer high intensity traffic lights – around which is a pool of darkness for drivers – stay out of the road and on the pavement.
Kent Police are running a campaign to remind people that alcohol and the river don’t mix so people out for the evening and having a few drinks should stay away from water. It’s a good idea but perhaps it needs extending and people having a few drinks should be encouraged to stay out of the road as well as out of the water.
On that sombre note, stay safe and enjoy Christmas with or without a few drinks to help the Christmas spirit along.
Bob Britnell is the former principal planning officer at Canterbury City Council and now runs his own consultancy offering planning and conservation advice. He lives in Tyler Hill.