92% of crashes involving pedestrians result in serious injuries or deaths. In 2017, 109 pedestrians in Maryland died after being struck by a vehicle. Pedestrian safety laws are the first part of the solution to this problem. The second is making sure that pedestrians and drivers work together, sharing the road to ensure safety for all. Here we share some of the most important pedestrian safety tips for pedestrians and drivers.
Traveling Safely on Foot
As a pedestrian, even a low-speed crash will send you to the hospital, or worse. Remember these safety tips anytime you’re traveling on foot.
Dress for Visibility
Whether it’s day or night, you should dress for visibility. Brightly colored clothing is ideal during daytime. At night, you should always wear reflective gear to help drivers see you. It is also helpful to use lights in darker areas.
Plan a Safe Route
Whenever possible, make sure there are sidewalks, crosswalks, and pedestrian crossing signals along the length of your route. If you know there is construction or some other issue that will disrupt your safe path, choose an alternate route.
Keep a Safe Distance from the Road
Whether you’re walking or waiting at the curb, always keep a safe distance from where vehicles will be passing by.
It’s dangerous to take drivers by surprise. Walk on sidewalks, cross at crosswalks, and use intersections by following all traffic signals. Never walk along the highway and stay out of zones that restrict pedestrians. These areas restrict you for your safety.
You need all your senses to be a safe pedestrian. Put your phone away and save your texts and calls for when you get to your destination. Do not be tempted to wear headphones or listen to music either. In all likelihood, you’ll hear a car before you see it.
Look Both Ways
We tell our kids this all the time, but it’s a good reminder for adults, too. Look left, right, and then left once again to make sure no traffic is coming as you cross the road.
Make Eye Contact with Drivers
This is one of the best way to make sure a driver has seen you. Any time you are crossing the road at an intersection where a driver is stopped, always make eye contact before you step into the road.
Never Assume that Drivers See You
It is dangerous to blindly trust traffic signals and assume that the walk signal means it’s safe. Once the pedestrian crossing signal is green, you should pause to look for cars.
Anticipate and Be Cautious
Always be extra cautious in areas where you know cars may be driving. You should be aware of where cars might be turning, backing out, or entering driveways. You should also give drivers extra time to see you and react when visibility is low or weather is bad.
How Drivers Can Keep Pedestrians Safe
Follow All Traffic Signals
Traffic signals not only keep you safe, they help pedestrians anticipate where and when there will be cars moving on the road. Heeding all traffic signals and safety laws keeps everyone safe.
Never Drive While Tired or Impaired
Drowsy driving is extremely dangerous because it impacts your concentration and your reaction time. So does impaired driving, which is illegal.
Avoid Distractions While Driving
Put away your cell phone, turn down your music, and make sure pets are secure while you drive. These distractions could cause you not to see a pedestrian or to miss a traffic signal giving the pedestrian the right of way.
Use Your Lights When Visibility is Low
You should be doing this anyway, but it will certainly help the pedestrians sharing the road with you. Always use your lights at night, in bad weather, or other situations where visibility is low.
Be Extra Cautious in Areas with More Pedestrians
In areas with heavy foot traffic, slow down and pay extra attention. Work zones, school zones, and neighborhoods with lots of children see many preventable pedestrian crashes each year.
Make Eye Contact
When you encounter a pedestrian waiting to cross, make eye contact with them to be sure they see you and to let them know you see them. Be courteous and allow them to cross safely.
When in Doubt, Use Your Horn
If you realize a pedestrian is in danger and need to get their attention, use your horn. If they are wearing headphones or seem unaware of oncoming traffic, you may save their life.
Even if you primarily get places by driving, there will always be times where you are a pedestrian. When you’re driving, treat pedestrians with the same respect you’d like to see. When you’re traveling by foot, walk smart! Look up, look out, and always stay alert.