Every day, 460 pedestrians are injured in traffic-related incidents. In the next hour, possibly while you are reading this, 1 pedestrian will be killed in a traffic-related incident. While motorists must always be on the lookout for pedestrians and do their part to maintain safe roadways by staying alert and in control, pedestrians should practice safe travels too. With that in mind, here are 7 safety tips for safe, happy, and healthy walking.
- Cross only at the crosswalks. Crosswalks are there for a reason—they identify that particular space of roadway as a place for pedestrians to safely get to the other side of the street. They are strategically placed at corners and other areas where drivers can see you coming and slow down or stop accordingly. Drivers aren’t allowed to park there, so there’s no chance of you being hidden by a vehicle. Drivers know to look for pedestrians in crosswalks. Driver carelessness can still occur at the crosswalk, but it’s less likely that you’ll be injured at the crosswalk than crossing in the middle of the street from between parked cars.
- Make yourself visible. Wear reflective tape, brightly colored clothing, and/or carry a flashlight or glow stick at night. These items make you visible to drivers. Even dark clothing on a cloudy day and white or light clothing in fog, snow, or mist can keep you from being spotted easily. Dress for the conditions, keeping in mind that reflective tape and bright neon colors will help you stand out to the drivers on the road.
- Walk on the sidewalk. That’s what it’s there for. It takes a very careless, reckless driver to leave the street and venture onto the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, it is generally safer to walk against the flow of traffic, rather than with it. That way, you can see the cars coming, and they can better see you.
- Walk with the signals. At intersections, drivers may not always be able to see you crossing the street if they are turning into it from the cross street. Therefore, it is important to obey the pedestrian signals. If none are present, be aware that drivers may turn into the intersection—don’t dally or dawdle as you cross.
- Don’t walk home from the bar or party. In 2010, 33% of all pedestrians killed in road-related accidents were drunk or nearly there. Call a cab, Uber, Lift, or a friend for a ride. Have a designated driver along for the evening. Don’t take the chance of stumbling into the street or being incapable of following pedestrian safety because of your one too many.
- Teach your kids good safety habits. Nearly ¼ of all traffic-related deaths in children under 14 years of age are from injuries sustained in pedestrian accidents. Teens are more likely to be treated for injuries related to traffic-pedestrian incidents than any other age group, and boys more so than girls. Establishing good safety habits early on may just save your child’s life. Teach your children that safety comes first, even if it isn’t the coolest thing in the world.
- Be aware, and be wary. The best offence is a good defense. Don’t assume anything. Don’t assume that the driver can see you just because it’s a beautifully clear, sunny day. Don’t assume that the guy who signals you to cross will actually let you get all the way across the street before he ventures on. Be aware that you are just as, if not more so, responsible for your safety as the drivers on the road.
While doing your part to practice safe walking can reduce and prevent pedestrian accidents significantly, pedestrian accidents can still occur. Pedestrian laws differ from state to state, but if you or someone you know has been involved in a pedestrian accident that wasn’t their fault and suffered injuries as a result, seek legal advice as soon as you can.