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Pedestrian pointers: 4 ways to stay safe on Toronto roads

While it's a good idea to keep your head warm, it's more important that you keep your core heated.
While it's a good idea to keep your head warm, it's more important that you keep your core heated. John Moore/Getty Images

With just over a month left to go, 2015 is shaping up as one of the worst years for pedestrian collisions and deaths on Toronto roads.

To date, Toronto police say over 1,500 pedestrians have been struck this year alone, including 34 fatal collisions.

READ MORE: Deadly month for collisions with pedestrians in Toronto, 34 killed this year

That number includes four in the past four weeks, despite a police safety blitz in early November. The “Do The Bright Thing” campaign urged pedestrians to be more visible and alert on the roads. Here are four simple ways to keep safe:

Look both ways … seriously

This old piece of simple common sense is apparently not that common, according to a 2012 study published in the journal Injury Prevention.

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READ MORE: Why do Toronto pedestrian accidents peak at the end of November?

Researchers watched over 1,000 pedestrians crossing busy “high-risk” intersections, and saw only 25 per cent actually bothered to look both ways before crossing the street.

Distracted walking

Police and politicians have worked hard to dissuade drivers from using their mobile devices behind the wheel, but distracted walking can pose a danger as well.

Pedestrians perusing their phones or other devices can take longer to cross a street and are four times more likely to disobey lights, cross in the middle of an intersection or fail to look both ways, according to the Injury Prevention study.

Interactive maps: Toronto’s worst intersections for pedestrians

The authors of the study said pedestrians tend to view their walk as “down time” when they can turn off their brains and enjoy other distractions, but that attitude can be potentially deadly.

Headphone hazard

Similar to the phone problem, many pedestrians are absorbed in music while they walk, reducing their awareness of what’s happening on the road.

One recent U.S. study noted a major increase in pedestrian fatalities involving headphones. It compared 2004-2005, when 16 pedestrians died wearing headphones and 2010-2011, when that number jumped to 116.

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Headphones and music aren’t necessarily a direct cause, but the numbers do paint a picture. That same study also found 29 per cent of pedestrians wearing headphones didn’t respond to loud warnings like shouts or honking horns.

Choose clothing carefully

The sun sets early this time of year, and many people also tend to don darker clothing, which can be a dangerous mix.

Wearing brightly coloured clothing, or at least some reflective gear can make you far more visible to drivers.

Hoods can pose a danger too, since they can reduce your peripheral vision and muffle noise. If you’ve got to have one up, try taking it off when you cross the street or at least keep looking around to compensate for the reduced visibility.