Whether you live in the city, in the suburbs, or in the rural outskirts, pedestrian traffic is a vital part of your community. Pedestrians are children walking along the sidewalk to school, workers passing over the crosswalk to the office, and joggers exercising in the park. Pedestrians are everywhere! It’s no surprise, then, that pedestrian fatalities accounted for a whopping fourteen percent of all traffic deaths in years past.
In response to a growing need for intervention, the National Highway Administration embarked upon the Pedestrian Safety Campaign, a fifteen-year plan to reduce the number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities. A national plan, the Pedestrian Safety Campaign created materials to distribute and roll out at a hyper-local level. At its core, the campaign was twofold: educate and advocate for the safety of pedestrians with best practices and revamp local infrastructure to accommodate the needs of citizens who traverse the motorways on foot. We have compiled these top three pedestrian tips to encourage you to stay safe, be visible, and remain vigilant.
1. Choose a Safe Route
All roadways are not created equal, and the fastest (or most direct) route may not always be the safest. Choose a path that includes sidewalks which will keep you out of the direct line of traffic and provide a buffer between you and oncoming traffic. When sidewalks are not available, walk as far off to the side as possible. Always travel on the opposite side of the street, against oncoming traffic.
When crossing the street at an intersection, try to find one with a crosswalk and signal. If one is not available, make sure that you find the area with the lightest traffic that is well-lit and provides visibility to cars in either direction.
2. Be Visible to Drivers
If the drivers of cars on your street cannot see that you are walking, you are not safe. Try to limit walking at night, when visibility is low and collisions are more common. Wear brightly-colored clothing and, if possible, reflective gear to make sure that you are seen. Before crossing in front of a stopped car, even on a crosswalk, try to make eye contact with the driver. This will ensure that the driver does not proceed after you have stepped into oncoming traffic and before you have crossed safely to the other side.
3. Remain Vigilant at All Times
It is the responsibility of drivers on the road to remain vigilant at all times, but pedestrians bear the same amount of responsibility in order to stay safe and avoid accidents. Distracted pedestrians can be just as dangerous as distracted drivers. Try to avoid talking on a cell phone while walking down the street, which can take your mind off of your task. Don’t text, Facebook, play games or chat or using social networks. Avoid wearing headphones, as having all of your senses available and the ability to hear what is going on in the road around you is vital to remaining vigilant on the road.
In 2016, 5,000 pedestrians were killed while another 75,000 were injured. This number is predicted to see a steady increase in upcoming years as distracted driving is on the rise. Following these three pedestrian safety tips will help create necessary change and the improvement of safety measures in our local communities.