Earlier this week, two Wake County men were struck and killed by motor vehicles within 5 hours. (Read the WRAL report here.) Pedestrian safety is an ongoing concern, but it’s particularly timely in light of these events and considering that summer months bring more pedestrian traffic. It’s crucial that drivers and pedestrians be aware and take caution to protect themselves and others.
Pedestrian accidents are all too common. According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report, there were over 4,200 pedestrian deaths nationally in 2010 and approximately 70,000 pedestrian injuries. Though these statistics have generally been declining since 1995, the numbers are still staggering – twelve pedestrian deaths per day in 2010. Unfortunately, these numbers are very likely understated, as only a fraction of pedestrian accidents are actually reported to police. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a pedestrian accident, you should notify the police immediately and seek legal guidance.
It’s the responsibility of drivers and pedestrians to be aware of their surroundings. Here are some pedestrian safety tips for both drivers and pedestrians to keep in mind:
Tips for Drivers
- You can encounter pedestrians anytime and anywhere – even in places where they are not supposed to be found.
- Pedestrians can be very hard to see – especially in bad weather or at night. You must keep a lookout and slow down if you can’t see clearly.
- When entering a crosswalk area, drive slowly and be prepared to stop.
- Stop for pedestrians who are in a crosswalk, even if it is not marked. When you stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, stop well back so that drivers in the other lanes can also see the pedestrian in time to stop.
- Do not overtake and pass other vehicles stopped for pedestrians.
- When you are turning, you often will have to wait for a “gap” in traffic. Beware that while you are watching for that “gap,” pedestrians may have moved into your intended path.
- Be especially attentive around schools and in neighborhoods where children are active.
Tips for Pedestrians
- Be predictable. Stay off freeways and restricted zones. Use sidewalks where provided. Cross or enter streets where it is legal to do so.
- Where no sidewalks are provided, it is usually safer to walk facing road traffic.
- Make it easy for drivers to see you – dress in light colors and wear retro-reflective material. It might be wise to carry a flashlight in very dark areas.
- Be wary. Most drivers are nice people, but don’t count on them paying attention. Watch out – make eye contact to be sure they see you!
- Alcohol and drugs can impair your ability to walk safely, just like they do a person’s ability to drive.
- Use extra caution when crossing multiple-lane, higher speed streets.
[Source: UNC Highway Safety Research Center]
If you are a parent, pedestrian safety is also an important topic to discuss with your children. Read more about some kid-specific tips here.