According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are approximately five-thousand pedestrian deaths and almost seventy-thousand pedestrian injuries each year. These numbers equate to nearly one pedestrian death every two hours and a pedestrian injury every eight minutes.
With those types of numbers, and Halloween right around the corner, when thousands of children will flood the streets and sidewalks, this seems an appropriate time to refresh people’s memories on pedestrian safety.
Technically, a pedestrian is anyone who is walking, biking, scootering, or the like. However, most people think only of walking when they hear the word pedestrian. With that definition in mind, this blog post focuses on the “walker” in regards to pedestrian safety.
General Walking Safety Tips
The list of safety tips for walkers could easily run into the hundreds. However, what follows are some of the most commonly suggested tips for pedestrian safety:
• Walk facing traffic if there is no sidewalk. Facing traffic is suggested so walkers can more readily see oncoming traffic and it gives the walker a chance to take evasive action should a vehicle begin to drive in an unsafe manner.
• Cross the street safely. When possible, cross streets only at marked intersections and then only when the coast is clear and the traffic signal calls for it. If there is not a marked intersection, pedestrians should still cross at intersections rather than mid-block. Many drivers do not expect a pedestrian to be crossing mid-block and, therefore, driver’s frequently don’t have time to safely respond if they do come across such a person. Even if you are crossing at an intersection with a walk signal, you should always look in both directions prior to crossing the street.
• Walk single file if on the street. If you are walking with other people in an area in which there are no sidewalks, you should walk single file, facing traffic. When walking with a group, it can be tempting to walk side by side for conversation. However, configuring yourself in such a way may not only push pedestrians closer to traffic, it can make it difficult to quickly get out of the way of a vehicle should the need arise. This difficulty arises when not everyone sees a safety hazard and they fail to move when others in their group do and thus they impede the movements of others.
• Be aware of runners, bicyclists, and other walkers: It is easy to get caught up in your own thoughts when walking but it is important to be aware of other pedestrians on the road. Runners and bikers typically move much faster than their walking counterparts. Failing to be aware of these other, speedier, users of the road can result in injury if a collision occurs.
• Keep ears and eyes open: Keep the volume on your iPod low and your eyes up. Being aware of your surroundings, using all your senses, can help reduce the number of pedestrian injuries.
• Short leash on dogs: If walking a dog, keep the leash at an appropriate length. A long leash can result in tripping and pulling issues. These issues can result in injury not only to yourself but to others who may be walking or biking nearby.
• Be Seen: At a minimum, wear brightly colored clothes when walking. Wearing clothing with built in reflectors is even better.
• Walk defensively: Just like driving defensively – walk defensively. Don’t assume that everyone else knows or will follow the rules of the road.
• Watch for tripping hazards: A broken or cracked sidewalk, a toy on the sidewalk left behind by a child, or even a broken limb can all cause injury to the unwary walker. Scan the area in front of and beside you when walking.
• Don’t be a victim of “distracted walking”: With the advent of mobile devices, distracted driving has become, unfortunately, commonplace. Distracted walking is just as prevalent with people seemingly wandering into the streets as they stare at their phones. Be aware of your surroundings and keep your eyes up and ears open.
Halloween Safety Tips
The US Census Bureau estimates that forty-million children, ages five to fourteen, will go trick or treating. With that many children on the streets, accidents will happen but, fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to minimize these tragic injuries:
• Look for public trick or treat events: Shopping malls, apple orchards, and the like can prove to be fun – and safe – destinations for hallowed fun.
• Discuss with kids BEFORE going out: As the saying goes, “forewarned is forearmed”. Discuss walking and Halloween safety with your kids PRIOR to going out to enjoy the festivities.
• Traffic safety: Educate children about pedestrian safety. Again, do so before leaving the house.
• Flashlights / glow sticks: Carry a flashlight or a glow stick when trick-or-treating. Children carrying lights have a much better chance to be seen than those who do not.
• Costume safety: Costumes should not obscure a child’s eyes or ears. Additionally, baggy or loose fitting clothes can lead to trips which can cause injury.
• Stay with adult: Ensure your child is accompanied by an adult or person of suitable age and maturity.
• Stay away from strangers: This is an interesting position in which society places kids on Halloween. On one hand, we encourage them to go to the door of a stranger and ask for candy while, at the same time, we tell them not to talk to (nor accept gifts from) strangers. Explain to children, before leaving the house, the reasons behind this dichotomy and that the general rules of talking to strangers still apply.
• Stay in groups while trick-or-treating: A group of children is, obviously, easier for others to see than is an individual child. If possible, walk in a group but, if you must walk in the street, do so in a single-file line.
• Beware of fire: Candles remain a popular way to decorate on Halloween but children should give a wide berth to these flames lest their costumes come into contact with them.
• Inspect candy: Although this isn’t a “pedestrian” tip, it still bears mentioning. Children should not dig in to their candy until a parent or guardian has had the opportunity to inspect it for safety.
Contact a Des Moines Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have been injured as a pedestrian or in any other manner, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at DesMoinesInjuryLaw.com today for a free consultation. We can be reached at 515-493-4878.