Walking Safety is really three separate and somewhat diverse subjects. There is personal safety, how to stay out of or handle any security issues you may encounter on your walk. The second, injury prevention, how to avoid exercise related physical difficulties. Finally traffic safety, how to avert a potentially painful encounter with a motor vehicle. Each has it’s own rules and procedures as well as it’s own list of equipment requirements. I’ll cover the other two in the coming months but for today’s post I’ll focus on the traffic issue.
What’s at stake here? Simply put, pedestrian/motor vehicle accidents are a significant problem . When a car and a pedestrian collide, there is high probability of serious injury and death. The United States alone has nearly 5,000 pedestrian/car related deaths (700 of them childern) and another 64,000 injuries each and every year.
Some other sobering statistics from the National Highway Traffic Association and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:
- On average, a pedestrian is injured in a traffic accident every 8 minutes.
- On average, a pedestrian is killed in a traffic accident every 111 minutes.
- In 2005, the per capita pedestrian death rate was 1.6 per 100,000 people.
- 85.7 % of all non-fatal pedestrian accidents and 72 percent of pedestrian deaths occurred in urban settings
-The vast majority of fatal pedestrian/motor vehicle collisions occur on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in later evening or twilight hours.
Clearly this is an issue that requires a bit of a walker’s time and attention.
When these accidents occur, the motorist is often at fault yet the walker too must bear some responsibility for doing his or her utmost in preventing a mishap. That responsibility is – to stay alert at all times and make yourself as visible, as conspicuous as possible. By that I mean paying attention to where we walk, when we walk, how we walk and how we dress.
The following are some walking tips and equipment guides to help insure that you have a high visibility quotient during your walking routine.
-Walk on sidewalks where ever available.
-Walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic. You’ll be in a better position to anticipate and react to oncoming vehicles. Especially important when you’re physically on a road rather than a sidewalk.
-Be alert at all times and be aware of factors that might impact motorist visibility or ability to stop. For example sun, ice, rain, snow or fog.
-Be exceptionally cautious when approaching blind curves where you may not be visible to oncoming traffic.
-Walk on roads with wide shoulders.
-Anticipate potentially dangerous situations and be ready to take action if necessary. Don’t assume that the car will avoid you.
-Cross a street only at an intersections and always yield the right-of-way to vehicles. Right on red rules can be a real problem for the walker. So stay alert and pay attention to cars in the curb lane.
-Obey all traffic rules and signals.
- If you’re using a radio or Ipod use only one ear bud. Use the open ear to listen to what’s going on around you.
- When crossing a street come to a complete stop and look left, right, and then left again
- Make eye contact with waiting drivers when crossing a busy street
- When walking at night chose a well lit route
From an walking equipment perspective:
- Wear reflective clothing or accessories at dawn, dusk, or nighttime and bright, visible clothing at other times.
- Carry a flashlight when walking in the dark. Swing it side to side when a car approaches. Front to back swinging may cause glare and create confusion with the driver.
Oh, and one final tip, there is one thing you should always assume…that the other guy isn’t paying attention.
Cars and walkers frequently share the same resource. Mutual respect and awareness is the key to a safe coexistence. The walker however is at a distinct disadvantage in any sort of “confrontation” and needs to take extra precautions to avoid them at all costs. Walking safety is visibility and awareness.
Follow the rules and stay safe and secure .