According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), in 2015, there were 4,001 Pennsylvania accidents involving pedestrians and 153 of them were killed. Many of these deaths were elderly people and children.
Pedestrians, whether traveling by foot, wheelchair, or stroller, are among the most vulnerable road users in an accident. Follow these pedestrian safety tips to make sure that you and your loved ones are safe on the streets this summer.
Basic Pedestrian Safety Tips
Follow Pedestrian Laws
Both pedestrians and drivers are required to follow Pennsylvania’s pedestrian laws to ensure safety. These laws dictate:
- Who has the right-of-way
- The safest ways to cross the street
- Sidewalk use
- And more
Following these laws can help prevent pedestrian deaths and injuries.
Follow Crosswalk Laws
Pedestrians should use crosswalks whenever possible and follow crosswalk laws. Crossing the road in the middle of the street, or jaywalking, increases the chances of getting hit by a car. Over 40 percent of pedestrian accidents in Pennsylvania in 2014 involved a pedestrian entering a crossing or other specified location.
Pedestrians typically have the right-of-way when they cross the street in a crosswalk, as long as they are abiding by all traffic signals and signs. However, crossing at a crosswalk does not guarantee your safety. You should remain alert at all times when crossing the street.
Make Eye Contact with the Driver
Lack of visibility is a common cause of pedestrian accidents. Many drivers involved in these types of accidents claim they did not see the pedestrian as he or she crossed the road.
There are things pedestrians can do to make themselves more visible to motorists. For one, they should make eye contact with drivers before proceeding to cross the street. This will help drivers see you before you walk in front of their vehicle.
Do Not Assume the Driver Sees You or Will Follow Traffic Laws
As mentioned previously, both drivers and pedestrians are required to adhere to Pennsylvania’s pedestrian laws. However, you cannot assume that a driver will obey the laws. Even if the driver is being responsible and attentive, he may still not see you. It is important that you do whatever you can to ensure your own safety – this may mean waiting until you witness the driver stop for you to cross.
Do Not Drink and Walk
You may have heard that drunk driving has caused countless deaths and serious injuries nationwide. What you may not realize is that walking while drunk can also be dangerous. Approximately half of all fatal pedestrian accidents involved alcohol, and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 34 percent of pedestrians killed in car accidents in 2014 had blood alcohol levels of .08 or higher.
Walking after drinking is a concern for the state of Pennsylvania. According to PennDOT, from 2011 to 2015, Bucks County had a total of 61 accidents involving pedestrians under the influence (i.e., BAC of .01 or higher, or unknown BAC but suspected of drinking).
Alcohol can impair judgment and slow reaction times, putting pedestrians and those around them at risk. If you have had a few drinks, wait until you sober up before heading home or get someone else to take you home.
Wear Reflective Clothing When Walking at Night
Many tragedies happen because drivers have difficulty seeing pedestrians in poorly lit areas. Per PennDOT, over 62 percent of pedestrians were injured during the day. However, accidents that occur at night tend to be more serious. Just over 65 percent of pedestrian deaths occurred in the dark of night.
Avoid walking at night whenever possible. If you must walk at night, take the necessary precautions. You should walk in safe, well-lit places and follow all traffic signs and laws.
Wear lightly colored clothing and use reflective tape if possible. The CDC recommends carrying a flashlight and wearing retro reflective clothing to help increase your visibility. You should do whatever you can to make sure drivers can see you if you are walking at night.
Do Not Walk While Distracted
Much like drunk driving, distracted driving has also become a prevalent cause of car accidents. With the increased use of handheld electronic devices, distracted walking has also become an issue. Distracted pedestrians may neglect traffic laws and fail to observe oncoming traffic. Eating, texting, talking on the phone, and surfing the internet are all common forms of distraction for pedestrians.
Many people also wear headphones while they walk to listen to music and watch videos on their phones. Headphones can block out surrounding noise and can make it more difficult for pedestrians to hear approaching vehicles. Additionally, whatever they are listening to can further distract them from the roads. Wherever you are walking, keep your eyes and ears open and always remain focused on your surroundings.
Pedestrians who follow all of these tips are less likely to be involved in a serious accident. However, accidents do still occur. In such cases, it is likely that the driver may have been negligent behind the wheel. Filing an injury claim against the driver may allow you to recover compensation and move forward with your life after the accident. If you ever suffer injuries in a pedestrian accident, please contact Cordisco & Saile LLC for assistance.