Every year, around 143,000 pedestrians are injured or killed in collisions in the US. In fact, one pedestrian dies from a crash every 88 minutes.
Unfortunately, many of these injuries and fatalities happen because pedestrians aren’t taking precautions. Yes, drivers are legally responsible for watching for you and giving you the right of way under most circumstances. Still, that doesn’t help you when your life is on the line. Instead of hoping the drivers around you will do the right thing.
Use these pedestrian safety tips to protect yourself
1. Make Yourself Seen at Crosswalks
When it comes to crossing a street, you don’t get extra points for being stealthy. You want every driver on the road to be able to see you clearly.
There are several precautions you can take to make that possible. First, if you have the option of using multiple crosswalks, choose those that are well-lit when you’re walking at night.
You can go the extra mile and carry a flashlight to make yourself more visible too. Be careful not to shine it toward drivers, though.
Another strategy is to make sure you aren’t standing behind anything that would block drivers from seeing you. If there are parked cars, tall bushes, or other sight-blockers near the crosswalk, stand clear before you cross.
Finally, when possible, make eye contact with drivers so you know that they see you. Be especially cautious of drivers who may be turning right on red. They might be too busy looking for traffic, overlooking the crosswalk entirely.
2. Never Make Assumptions
We all know how the road is supposed to work and what rules drivers should be following. It’s never safe to assume that drivers will follow through, though.
Let’s say you’re waiting at an intersection and the light changes, giving you the right of way. You see drivers approaching the light that has just turned red.
Don’t assume those drivers will stop at the red light. Wait to cross until the cars have stopped.
3. Keep Your Senses Clear
While walking, it’s critical to be aware of your surroundings. Your vision, hearing, and other senses can warn you about approaching traffic and other potential dangers.
Avoid walking while listening to music with headphones. At the most, you should have your music in one earphone while leaving the other ear open to listen for warnings.
It’s also important not to walk while you are impaired by drugs or alcohol, especially if you are too intoxicated to reliably keep your balance.
Finally, it’s safer to wear sunglasses during the daytime so the bright sun doesn’t block your vision. At the same time, make sure the sunglasses aren’t so dark that they impede your vision instead.
4. Keep Your Eyes Off Your Phone
Everyone knows that texting while driving is dangerous. Texting while walking isn’t much better, though.
As this pedestrian accident lawyer notes, more and more people are texting or otherwise using their phones while walking. This stops you from seeing and paying attention to your surroundings. It’s easy to walk out into dangerous traffic when you’re focused on your phone.
If you must use your phone during your walk, step to the side of the sidewalk and stop while you send your text. Or, simply make your walk a phone-free time and enjoy the break from your daily stress.
5. Find Your Place
Walking in the right place is a critical way to stay safe as a pedestrian. Above all, any time there are sidewalks, stay on the sidewalks. Try to design your route so that there are sidewalks available for as much of your walk as possible.
At times when there is no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the street so you’re facing traffic. This makes you easier to see. Stick to the outside edge of the road as well so it’s easier for vehicles to pass you.
6. Be Cautious of Parking Lots
Walking through or past a parking lot is a high-risk moment for a pedestrian. Drivers are looking for parking spots or looking to make sure this is the right destination. They’re more distracted and may not watch for pedestrians.
If you’re walking on the sidewalk and passing a parking lot, be especially aware of the drivers around you. Look for the drivers that appear to be turning into or out of the lot and make eye contact to ensure that they see you.
When you’re walking through a parking lot at night, stick to the best-lit area of the parking lot. Be aware of which parked cars are running because they may start pulling out at any time.
7. Use Caution Passing Alleyways
Walking past a parking lot is risky because drivers may not be paying attention. Walking past an alley is even worse, though, because the buildings prevent drivers from seeing you, even if they’re paying attention.
While drivers should approach the end of the alley with caution, you can take extra care for yourself too. Stop at the edge of the alley and look to see if there are any drivers. Make eye contact with them if possible, but if you can’t, wait for them to either stop or pass.
8. Be a Fairweather Pedestrian
Poor weather like rain or fog makes every aspect of a trip more dangerous. Drivers may have poor visibility because of the weather, or they may be preoccupied. They might also have trouble stopping if they don’t see you right away.
Whenever possible, avoid walking when the weather is poor. If you must walk, wear brightly colored clothing and be especially vigilant about the other safety tips. You might want to rush to get out of the rain sooner, but it isn’t worth losing your life.
Knowing Your Top Pedestrian Safety Tips
For some pedestrians, there is comfort in knowing that it is often a driver’s responsibility to watch for them, not the other way around. In reality, though, this only matters when it comes to the legal case after the crash. The best way to protect yourself is be proactive and follow the pedestrian safety tips above.
For more safety tips to use in your daily life, check out more articles on our blog.