Walking may seem like a relatively safe activity – after all, you’ve been doing it for years or even decades. But this isn’t always the case.
Walking in your home isn’t likely to cause damage. But commuting by foot certainly poses problems: More than 5,300 pedestrians were struck and killed in 2015. That’s up 8% higher from the prior-year number of 4,900. Nearly one of five (19%) of those fatalities occurred within an intersection.
This problem involves reckless drivers, varying traffic laws, and many drivers’ (and pedestrians’) paying more attention paid to phones than the road. But yes, you can walk more safely. There are plenty of things pedestrians can do to make their journeys less risky.
Look Before You Leap
It sounds like elementary school logic, but looking both ways is one of best ways to stay safe when walking in the road. Cars generally come from both directions. So it’s important to be sure no one is heading your way, even if you have the “walk” signal in the crosswalk. Never assume vehicles will stop.
If you are walking in an area without sidewalks, always walk facing traffic so that you can see cars coming. Should a car approach too close or too quickly, you’ll have time to move out of its path. When sidewalks are an option, never walk in the road.
Obey All Posted Traffic Signs
Are right turns on red legal in your state? Are you close to a plethora of roundabouts or traffic circles? Traffic laws vary greatly from one city, state, or country to another. So be aware of state regulations as well as the signs posted in your vicinity. Keep an eye on more than just pedestrian signs, too: the guidelines for cars can be helpful.
Before crossing the street, check especially for all signs that direct drivers and pedestrians in and around intersections. Pay attention to the order of cars, turn arrows, medians, and anything else that may affect how and when pedestrians typically would cross the street. If there are no sidewalks, note the flow of traffic and read all signs on both sides of the road.
Stay Alert – Distracted Walking is Real
In cities as well as suburban areas, it’s common to see pedestrians walking with headphones in, talking on their cell phones, or even watching videos or movies on their phones while on their feet. While this may seem like a good way to pass the time, it’s also a high level of distraction that can make you susceptible to an accident on the road.
Don’t be a victim of distracted walking. You can keep your headphones in. But be sure the volume is low enough so that you can hear horns, sirens, speeding cars, trucks and any other roadside dangers. Stay engaged with the world around you. Look and listen to the vehicles on the road as well as other pedestrians. Don’t keep your nose in your phone. When you’re not looking at the street, you’re likely to miss something.
Travel in Well-Lit Areas (or Light Yourself)
Darkness can be quite a danger for pedestrians. Despite street lights and headlights, drivers’ and pedestrians’ limited vision after dark can make it much harder to make it safely from one place to another. In fact, the majority of accidents happen in evening hours between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
Be sure to walk on marked paths with as many light sources as possible. If you need to walk on dark streets, in poorly-lit neighborhoods or in rural areas where streetlights are scarce, consider wearing reflective clothing, a head lamp or a blinking belt. The more noticeable you are, the less likely you are to get hit by a vehicle.
Staying safe on the road goes far beyond safe driving. How you behave as a pedestrian makes a huge difference as well. When you want to minimize the likelihood of a pedestrian accident, following the rules of the road can ensure every commute on foot is a good one.
If you want to stay safe on and off the road, Couch Braunsdorf can help. With protections for your home, your car, and yourself, we can offer the guidance you deserve.