By Marcus Fernandez
During the course of an average day, all of us become pedestrians at one point or another. As children head back to school, this is an excellent time for parents to share safety tips for pedestrians. Especially if you’re trusting your student to walk to school by themselves. Equip them with the knowledge and skills to arrive safely.
It may also be a good time for adults to brush up on pedestrian safety tips. Even if you mostly drive to your destination, once you leave the relative safety of your car, you become pedestrians. If you need convincing, consider the most recently available statistics from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles: In 2019, there were 9,736 motor vehicle accidents in the state leaving 7,893 pedestrians injured and another 734 dead. The following safety tips can keep you and your family from becoming a statistic.
Studies confirm that whether driving a car or walking across a busy street, distractions cause accidents. The ability to see and hear approaching vehicles is essential to staying safe. Think about the number of practices you engage in with your smartphone that create distractions, including:
- Wearing headphones or earbuds to listen to music.
- Making or receiving calls.
- Texting or reading a text.
- Looking at a map or GPS app.
- Reading a book or checking the news.
- Watching a movie.
Anything that diverts your attention away from the task of paying attention to hazards, including vehicles, is a distraction. Children walking together with friends can find a lot to chat about along the way, so remind them to stop talking and pay attention when walking in the road or crossing the street.
Be Visible to Drivers
Equally as important as your ability to see and hear approaching vehicles is the ability of drivers to see you. When walking early in the morning or in the evening, wear bright clothing to make yourself more visible to drivers. Data compiled by the federal government shows that the greatest percentage of accidents involving pedestrians and motor vehicles happen between 6-9 p.m.
Wearing bright colors and crossing the street at intersections that are well lit makes you visible to drivers. If you enjoy getting out to run in the pre-dawn or late evening hours, wearing reflective gear helps make you visible to motorists. Reflective vests and belts made for runners should be added to your child’s wardrobe when going out during low-light conditions.
Besides being mindful of clothing choices, encourage children to be aware of where they cross the street to maximize their visibility to drivers. When crossing at an intersection where parked vehicles may block drivers from seeing pedestrians stepping into the roadway, pedestrians should take care to make certain they are not blocked from the view of approaching motorists.
Obey Signs and Follow the Rules of the Road
Just as drivers have rules of the road they must follow; pedestrians can reduce the risk of injury by following these rules:
- If a marked crosswalk is available, use it when crossing the street.
- Do not assume that a driver will always stop simply because you are crossing the street.
- Make eye contact with drivers to make certain they see you before crossing in front of their vehicles.
- Obey traffic lights and do not cross unless the green light is in your favor. The old safety tip to “cross at the green” still applies.
- When crossing at an intersection with pedestrian electronic crossing devices, wait until it indicates that you may cross.
- Stay on sidewalks whenever possible and avoid walking in the roadway.
- When walking on a road that does not have a sidewalk, walk facing oncoming traffic.
It can be dangerous and puts you at risk to assume that a driver sees you and will do what needs to be done to avoid an accident. Remember the first tip about distractions? Well, drivers have smartphones, GPS, radios and other distractions that may divert their attention from the road, so pedestrians should never take for granted what a driver sees or hears.
Avoid Alcohol or Drugs
Pedestrians, particularly adults and older children, should be mindful of the effects of alcohol consumption and drug use. Impaired judgment from drugs or alcohol increases the risk of an accident whether the person consuming the substance is a driver or a pedestrian. As a pedestrian, refrain from walking along roadways if impaired.
When Accidents Occur, a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
Pedestrians injured in accidents caused by the careless or reckless behavior of a motorist may be entitled to compensation. A consultation with a Tampa personal injury attorney can offer options for protecting your rights, even when you tried your best to follow the above safety tips. Call to speak with one of our lawyers at Kinney, Fernandez, and Boire Lawyer or fill out this form to get a free case evaluation.