Any time a person walks along a route that includes vehicle traffic, there is a risk of an injury due to an accident. Sidewalks, crosswalks and traffic signals should alert drivers to the fact that pedestrians may be in the area, but these safety features are not always enough to prevent a collision.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center provides these safety tips that increase the likelihood that pedestrians reach their destination unharmed:
1. Be visible
While it is no excuse for drivers to say that they never saw the pedestrian, there are ways that pedestrians can make themselves more visible. For example, a bright jacket or shoes often catch a driver’s eye, while someone wearing gray or brown may blend in with the scenery. At night, pedestrians should wear light colors and carry a flashlight.
Drivers may also fail to see a pedestrian until it is too late if the person steps into the road from behind a car or bus.
2. Follow pedestrian laws
Pedestrian laws correspond with vehicle traffic laws. These include using sidewalks when they are available, facing traffic when walking on the roadway and crossing the road at intersections or crosswalks.
When using a crosswalk, pedestrians should be aware that those markings on the roadway do not guarantee their safety. In fact, even though they are crossing legally, they are actually at an increased risk of a collision. Research shows that vehicles are twice as likely to strike someone in a marked crosswalk as in an unmarked crosswalk.
3. Stay alert
It is possible that pedestrians take their safety for granted at a crosswalk. Even though they have the right of way, they must never stop watching for vehicles. For example, pedestrians are particularly vulnerable when drivers make righthand turns on red. While traffic engineers have designed pedestrian safety islands to prevent this type of accident, most intersections do not have them. Before crossing legally, pedestrians should still look both ways and at the vehicles in the lane behind them, and, if possible, make eye contact with the drivers around them.