Pedestrian safety is a major concern throughout the United States. With an ever-increasing number of vehicles on the road and distracted drivers behind the wheel, pedestrians are at risk for serious injury or even death if they don’t take proper precautions when walking around town. Fortunately, there are several steps that both pedestrians and motorists can take to ensure everyone stays safe while navigating busy streets and intersections.
According to the US Department of Transportation, there were 6,516 pedestrians killed in 2020, and approximately 55,000 pedestrians were injured in that year. According to their data, a pedestrian is killed every 81 minutes in a traffic accident, and a pedestrian is injured every 8 minutes. Regionally, at least 2 pedestrians have died in the last 6 months after being struck by a vehicle in a parking lot.
Pedestrian Safety Tips
Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals.
Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available.
If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections. Look for cars in all directions, including those turning left or right.
If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a gap in traffic that allows enough time to cross safely; continue watching for traffic as you cross.
Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways, or backing up in parking lots.
Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking as they impair your abilities and your judgment.
Dress appropriately- wear bright clothing that makes you visible while walking
Carry a flashlight, wear a flashing beacon, and/or wear reflective clothing, especially when walking at night or in areas with poor lighting.
For both pedestrians and drivers, avoiding impairment while traveling is the safest choice for everyone. According to the Centers for Disease Control, alcohol was a factor in 46% of fatal pedestrian crashes in 2019. Remember, impairment doesn’t only refer to alcohol and/or illegal drugs. Many medications, including those sold over the counter, warn that they impair judgment and reaction time, and many of these also cause drowsiness. This includes allergy medication, which many people take during this time of year.
Motorist Safety Tips
Look out for pedestrians everywhere, at all times, including neighborhood sidewalks where a child could unexpectedly dart into the roadway.
Use extra caution when driving in hard-to-see conditions, such as nighttime or bad weather.
Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or otherwise entering a crosswalk.
Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and stop well back from the crosswalk to give other vehicles an opportunity to see the crossing pedestrians so they can stop too.
Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. There may be people crossing where you can’t see.
Never drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
Follow the speed limit, especially around people on the street, in school zones, and in neighborhoods where children are present.
Be extra cautious when backing up and look for pedestrians.
Avoid distractions while driving that could cause you to not see a pedestrian during your travels.
Pedestrians and drivers alike must be aware of their surroundings at all times. By taking these simple measures seriously each day we can help reduce accidents and make our streets safer for everyone.