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A safe walk

Tips for pedestrians and drivers

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Photo: georgeclerk/iStockphoto

The rate of pedestrian deaths jumped more than 20% in the first half of 2020. That’s a big increase.

What led to it? According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, speeding, distracted driving and impaired driving during the COVID-19 pandemic all played a role.

The GHSA says that if the trend continued in the second half of the year, it expects to report the largest-ever recorded annual increase in the U.S. pedestrian death rate per mile driven.

Whether you’re a pedestrian or a driver, you can do your part to help keep yourself and others safe. Here’s how.

Pedestrians

Walking it today? The National Safety Council recommends you:

  • Use the sidewalk, whenever possible. If that’s not an option, walk facing traffic.
  • Obey all traffic signs and signals.
  • Cross streets at crosswalks when you can. If no crosswalk is available and your view of traffic is blocked, move to a place where you can see oncoming traffic.
  • Look left, right and left again before crossing a street. Make eye contact with drivers to make sure they see you.
  • Pay attention: Don’t use your cellphone or wear earbuds. These devices put your safety at risk, the NSC says.
  • Wear bright or reflective clothing if you’re walking at night, and use a flashlight.
  • Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways or backing up in parking lots. Their drivers may not see you.

Drivers

When you’re behind the wheel, you need to always be on the alert for pedestrians. The NSC offers tips:

  • Scan the road for crosswalks and use the “What if?” strategy: If a person darted out in front of my car, how would I react? Be prepared for any situation.
  • Obey all traffic laws.
  • Be extra careful when backing up your vehicle. Check all angles for people before proceeding.
  • Don’t block a crosswalk when stopped at a red light or while waiting to make a turn. This forces people to go around you, which could put them in the path of traffic.
  • Yield to pedestrians, even if they aren’t in a crosswalk.
  • Don’t wave pedestrians across the street. Other drivers may not see you doing so and could strike the pedestrians with their vehicle.
  • Are kids nearby? School zone signs, playgrounds and crossing guards are good indicators that children are around. Make sure to drive attentively in these areas and follow the posted speed limit.
  • Don’t honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way. Let’s all be courteous to each other.

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