Walking is a healthy activity that has increased in prominence during the time of a pandemic. However, it is not free of risks, particularly when motor vehicles are nearby. A moving motor vehicle of any size striking a pedestrian can result in serious, even fatal injuries to the person.
Statistics tell a tragic story
The number of pedestrian deaths is alarmingly high. The latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals nearly 6,300 fatalities in 2018, the most deaths since 1990. The number represented a three percent jump from 5,977 in 2017 when a pedestrian was killed every 88 minutes in traffic-related accidents.
Children are the majority of the pedestrian population. For children 10 years old and younger, their only option is walking, particularly if they don’t have a bicycle. Those of elementary school age are known to be energetic and impetuous, particularly when it comes to walking across the street. Darting into the road is a common, and sometimes tragic occurrence.
Proactive changes can make a difference
The good news is pedestrians of all ages who are proactive while traversing crosswalks, paths, and curbs can enjoy their walks safely while minimizing serious incidents involving motor vehicles. Examples include:
- Walk as if a driver can’t see you and make eye contact when they approach
- Wear bright clothing or reflective material depending on the time of day
- Be aware of surroundings and avoid looking at electronic devices or following drug/alcohol use
- Obey the rules of the road, including traffic signs and signals
- Walk on sidewalks when available or travel as far away from cars and trucks while facing traffic when sidewalks are not an option
- Cross streets where drivers anticipate walkers, specifically crosswalks or intersections while looking for vehicles in all directions and identifying any possible right or left turns
- Find a well-lit area, if no crosswalk or intersection is available to provide a better view of traffic. Begin walking when there is a gap and continue to look out for vehicles while crossing the street
These steps can make a difference in reducing skyrocketing pedestrian accident deaths.