According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s ‘Traffic Safety Facts 2017 Data: Pedestrians,’ pedestrian accidents make up around 16% of yearly traffic fatalities, amounting to around 6,000 deaths in 2017 in the United States. In this article, we’ll explore the measures that drivers and pedestrians alike can take to prevent pedestrian accidents in Philadelphia and beyond.
As A Pedestrian
Whether you’re crossing the street or standing on the shoulder of the road, as a pedestrian you’re taking a risk. By taking a few precautions, you can do your part to avoid accidents and stay safe. Keep the following in mind:
Exercise Extra Caution In Urban Areas
Urban areas are some of the most dangerous spaces for pedestrians, and you should consequently exercise caution when walking in the city. While some experts have recommended safety indexes for evaluating street facilities in our cities, pedestrians are still largely on their own in determining risk.
Cross Only In Designated Areas
When crossing the road, utilize crossing signals and crosswalks to safely traverse busy throughfares. These areas are created by the municipality for pedestrian use and give you the right of way to cross the road at designated times. When walking alongside a road, make sure to use the sidewalk. In the absence of sidewalks, walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic and as far from the roadway as you can.
Use Your Eyes
Just as we learned as children, looking both ways before crossing a street is essential to preserving our safety. But using your eyes also means making eye contact with drivers to ensure that they see you and you can cross securely.
If walking near roadways during the day, try to dress in bright colors and make sure you’re visible to drivers. At night, wearing reflective surfaces as a pedestrian can help maximize visibility.
Expect Drivers Not To See You
Simply because one driver has stopped does not mean that the driver behind them has. Be careful to check around stopped cars before crossing. Similarly, minimize erratic or unpredictable behavior, and make sure drivers have the chance to see you and react before putting yourself at risk.
Exercise Extra Caution During Inclement Weather
In any situation that could cause dangerous driving conditions, such as snow or rain, make sure to be extra careful. This means ensuring that cars have plenty of time to stop on icy or slippery roads before crossing, and making sure you’re visible even in heavy rain. Similarly, avoid walking while intoxicated, as it can greatly increase the risk of an accident.
It’s impossible to predict when tragedy may strike. While these tips should help decrease the likelihood of being injured in a pedestrian accident, it’s important to know what steps you should take after being hit by a vehicle.
As A Driver
The majority of pedestrian accidents are caused by driver negligence. While it’s impossible to predict when pedestrian accidents may happen, there are plenty of precautions you can take as a driver to make them less likely. Take note of the following ways you can avoid pedestrian accidents when you’re behind the wheel:
Drive Carefully In Urban Areas And School Zones
Urban areas, because of their higher concentration of people and cars, are among the most dangerous for pedestrians. Exercise caution in these areas and drive at a speed that will give you plenty of time to react to any unexpected occurrences. Observe all marked signs and be prepared to react at a moment’s notice. This is especially important in school zones and near school buses, as children tend to be less cognizant of the risk of collision.
Yield To Pedestrians
Pedestrians are at a supreme disadvantage to drivers, but in many situations, they have the right of way. When in doubt, yield to pedestrians to allow them to safely cross the road.
Don’t Whip Around Stopped Vehicles
If the car in front of you stops, don’t assume it’s safe for you to drive around them—they likely stopped for a reason. Ensure that there are no pedestrians in the way before passing them.
Give Senior Citizens And Individuals With Special Needs Plenty Of Time
While it may be easy for able-bodied pedestrians to cross the road in a timely fashion, older individuals or individuals with disabilities may need a bit more time. Be patient, and let them cross safely before continuing, even if traffic signals give you the right to go.
Be Cautious In Inclement Weather
The necessity to drive during snow or rain means that pedestrians may need to be out and about as well. Inclement weather brings decreased visibility and dangerous road conditions, so be on the lookout for pedestrians so that you have ample time to stop if need be.
Never Drive Under The Influence
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol poses a huge risk to yourself and others, and is illegal. When under the influence, make sure to have a designated driver or stay home.
Walking near roadsides can be unexpectedly dangerous, but it doesn’t have to be. If you follow these tips as drivers and pedestrians, you can help ensure that our roadways are safer for all those who must use them.