The United States is in the midst of a pedestrian safety crisis, and many pedestrians want to know how to keep themselves safe. Considering we all spend some time as pedestrians, pedestrian safety tips can be helpful for everyone. At Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C., we’ve compiled some of the best ones from around the web to help answer the question: “How can I improve my pedestrian safety?”
Tip #1: Be Predictable
When you are walking, always follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals. Walk in places drivers expect to see pedestrians – stay on sidewalks and cross in crosswalks whenever possible. Be extra careful in parking lots and driveways, and when no sidewalks are available, walk facing traffic and as far from cars as possible.
If you have to cross the street without a crosswalk, pick a well-lit intersection or another location where you can see traffic and drivers can see you. If you can, make eye contact with drivers before crossing to ensure they see you and know what you’re about to do.
Tip #2: See and Be Seen
In fact, you should make eye contact with drivers whenever possible and try to stay visible at all times. If you’re going on a walk during the day, wear bright colors, and if you’re walking at night, carry a flashlight and wear lightly colored or reflective clothing.
Paying attention to drivers is just as important as making sure they see you. Stay off your phone while you’re walking near traffic or crossing the street, and don’t walk with headphones in. For the safest experience as a pedestrian, you need to be alert – always.
Tip #3: Know the Stats
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
“Most pedestrian deaths occur in urban areas, at non-intersection locations, and at night.”
Using this information, be sure you walk during the day and cross at intersections whenever possible. If you need to walk at night, choose well-lit areas and be extremely careful. Another important statistic – 47% of fatal pedestrian accidents involve alcohol for the driver and/or the pedestrian, which brings us to our next point…
Tip #4: Avoid Alcohol
Always walk sober. Drugs and alcohol can impair your judgement and your coordination. While walking home after a night at a bar is safer than drinking and driving, the best ways to get home include a designated driver, a cab or rideshare service, and public transportation.
Tip #5: Consider Pedestrian Safety When You’re Behind the Wheel, Too
Speaking of driving, you should keep pedestrian safety in mind even when you’re not a pedestrian. Remember that safety is a shared responsibility and look out for pedestrians everywhere, at all times.
Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends:
- Being extra cautious in hard-to-see conditions, including nighttime, bad weather, and when the glare from the sun makes it difficult to see.
- Slowing down when turning or entering a crosswalk.
- Yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks (and whenever you see pedestrians crossing the street).
- Waiting for vehicles that are stopped in a crosswalk (do not pass them – they may be waiting for pedestrians you do not see!)
- Never driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Following the speed limit, especially in school zones and neighborhoods where children may be present.
- Being careful when backing up, driving in parking lots, or entering or exiting driveways (pedestrians can easily come into your path)
Finally, just because you take these precautions while behind the wheel doesn’t mean other drivers will. Whether you’re behind the wheel or not, you should drive and walk defensively. Never assume other drivers will yield the right of way and expect the unexpected.
We look forward to putting more than 140 years of combined legal experience on your side and helping you protect your rights while keeping our community safe.