By Catherine N. Reeves, Lawyer at Metzger Wickersham
Drivers and pedestrians alike share the responsibility of keeping themselves and others on the road safe. Many strides have been made by the Federal Highway Administration to increase pedestrian safety. Infrastructure improvements have added a variety of safety measures, including more medians and redesigned roads allowing for better pedestrian/bicycle traffic flow.
Unfortunately, even with safety measures in place, pedestrian fatalities remain high. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there was a more than 3% increase in the number of pedestrians killed in traffic crashes in 2018, totaling 6,283 deaths — the most deaths since 1990.
As a pedestrian, a person enjoys benefits that a driver may not be able to. According to the Arthritis Foundation some health benefits include:
- Improves circulation
- Shores up bones
- Increases life expectancy
- Lightens your mood
- Burns calories
- Strengthens muscles
- Improves sleep
- Supports your joints
- Improves breathing
- Slows down mental decline
- Lowers risk of Alzheimer’s disease
However, being a pedestrian can be dangerous, and unfortunately, there were approximately 154 pedestrian fatalities in Pennsylvania in 2019. While enjoying the great outdoors, it is still important to be alert and mindful to avoid preventable accidents. The following are basic tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to keep pedestrians safe.
10 Walking Safety Tips
- Be predictable. Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals.
- Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available.
- If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
- Keep alert at all times; don’t be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road.
- Whenever possible, cross streets at crosswalks or intersections, where drivers expect pedestrians. Look for cars in all directions, including those turning left or right.
- If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a gap in traffic that allows enough time to cross safely; continue watching for traffic as you cross.
- Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach to make sure you are seen.
- Be visible at all times. Wear bright clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.
- Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways, or backing up in parking lots.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking; they impair your abilities and your judgment.
9 Driving Safety Tips
- Look out for pedestrians everywhere, at all times. Safety is a shared responsibility.
- Use extra caution when driving in hard-to-see conditions, such as nighttime or bad weather.
- Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or otherwise entering a crosswalk.
- Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and stop well back from the cross-walk to give other vehicles an opportunity to see the crossing pedestrians so they can stop too.
- Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. There may be people crossing that you can’t see.
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
- Follow the speed limit, especially around people on the street.
- Follow slower speed limits in school zones and in neighborhoods where children are present.
- Be extra cautious when backing up—pedestrians can move into your path.
While many pedestrian accidents occur because of an out-of-control vehicle, there are also pedestrian accidents that happen because one or both parties are not paying attention to their surroundings. Remember, cross smart, don’t dart – look both sides before crossing a street. As a driver, drive with care and keep your eyes on the road, crosswalks, and sidewalks. If we look out for one another, we can greatly reduce preventable pedestrian injuries.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a pedestrian accident, contact Metzger Wickersham. Call us at (888)-286-2850 or email usto schedule your free consultation today.