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Pedestrian injuries and deaths are alarmingly high especially among kids, teenagers and seniors. Today there are many mobile devices and related distractions to take into account as well. These devices can cancel some of the senses we use to keep us on guard. Teenagers may be watching their cell phones rather than the road or cyclists listening to music instead of keeping their ears open to detect dangers.

These distractions are here and more likely to increase. So, we should teach kids to be extra careful and motorists should always be on the watch out for preoccupied pedestrians and cyclists. Then, there are the usual common sense solutions that can reduce accidents involving vehicles and people on foot or on bikes.

No doubt, pedestrians and cyclists are much more likely to suffer injuries or die in auto accidents than drivers and passengers. Figures from Center for Disease Control and Prevention show that far too many people on foot or on bikes get injured or die as a result of road accidents. The fact is that most of these injuries and deaths can be prevented. Here are some tips and materials to help reduce these tragedies.

Tips for Everyone

It is easier to preach than do the right things. Setting a good example is more important than telling what to do. Children will learn by watching adults in their lives. Besides, many adults are killed or hospitalized while crossing the road that it is important to follow the rules especially when you are with young people. Here are some of the common guidelines

  1. Don’t try to cross the road and carry on using electronic devices in the same time. Put down your cell phone. They distract you and occupy your senses that should be used to assess the dangers around you.
  2. Don’t wear headsets or take them off when you need to step on the road. Your eyes and ears are the best tools to keep you safe.
  3. Always use signals and crosswalks where they are available. If not, wait for a long enough gap on both sides of traffic before attempting crossing. At night, look for a well-lit spot. Try to cross at street corners to see the road and traffic better if you are near one.
  4. Look left, right and left again before crossing (in the UK and other countries where cars are driven on the left, look right, left and right again).
  5. Walk calmly and keep looking as you cross. Don’t run.
  6. Stay on the sidewalks and paths. If there are no sidewalks, face traffic so that you can see the cars coming on your side.
  7. Never assume that drivers will give you way even when you are standing at a pedestrian crossing. Make eye contact with drivers of stopped or approaching cars before crossing in front of them.
  8. Watch for automobiles that are turning or backing up. Stand away from parked vehicles so that drivers can see you.
  9. Avoid walking along highways and roads where pedestrians are prohibited.
  10. Avoid alcohol consumption or long walks home after drinking alcohol. Nearly half of traffic crashes involving people walking are alcohol related. And it was drunken pedestrians in 34% of the time. You don’t have to be sober to walk on the streets. But alcohol impairs decision-making, physical reflexes and senses as much on foot as it is behind the wheel.

Resources for Pedestrian Safety

Walk This Way to Smart Road Use

Know Traffic Signs to Follow

The Danger of Using Roads on Foot (Infographic)

Tips for Kids and Parents

Kids are easily distracted or excited that requires parents to be extra careful around cars and teach them how to behave on their own. It is important to carry on the education until they are adults. Many people may think that young children are the most venerable to accidents on the roads. However, statistics show that teenagers are more likely to get hit by cars on the streets. This is more so now that almost every one of them owns a mobile device. Here are some tips to help children and parents;

  1. Probably the first thing to teach children is to pay attention and reduce distractions. They should put away mobile devices and toys and concentrate on getting to their destination safely. This is more of a problem with teenagers who love listening to music or talking to friends on the phone all the time.
  2. Parents should never allow kids under age 10 to cross roads alone.
  3. Hold Kids’ hands in parking lots and while crossing streets.
  4. Teach children to cross about 10 feet in front of school buses to make sure drivers see them and never behind.
  5. Make sure children use most direct routes to school with the fewest street crossings.
  6. Tell kids never to run into roads chasing a ball or a pet.
  7. Children should never play on the roads. They should play in parks, playgrounds and yards with no traffic.
  8. Parents should accompany children when the visibility is poor at times like dawn, dusk, rainy and foggy weathers.
  9. Kids should wear reflective clothing to be more visible to drivers. This could be achieved with light colour clothing or reflectors.
  10. Children should learn traffic signs and how to use signals and crosswalks. They should be aware of all the above basic pedestrian safety tips. Especially, they should know never to attempt crossing (even at pedestrian crosswalks) until the traffic stops for them or no vehicles or bikes are coming.

Kids Pedestrian Safety Resources

Child Pedestrian Safety Teaching Materials

Walk This Way Video Advices

Safe Routes to School Guide (pdf)

Staying Safe on the Way to School

Safe Kids Worldwide

Seniors Pedestrian Safety Tips

According to Pedestrian Traffic Safety Facts published by NHTSA, in 2012, older people (age 65+) accounted for 20% (935) of all pedestrian deaths and 9% (7,000) of all injuries. These fatalities are significant considering seniors make only 13% of population. One of the reasons behind these high figures is that even a small accident may result in deaths as older people have fragile bodies.

As people get older vision diminishes, reflexes slow and the ability to move quickly and in an agile manner decrease. It can take longer to cross roads and becomes harder to deal with situations that require prompt evasive action. Also, because eyesight and hearing often become less acute the judgment of traffic distance and speed can be less accurate. Therefore, elderly pedestrians should allow themselves plenty of time to cross streets. Here are some of the tips to help elder road users on top of the above common tips for all.

  1. Give yourself more time to cross by waiting for a newly turned walk or green signal.
  2. Walk or cross with other people wherever possible to be more visible.
  3. Listen for engine noises and watch for reverse lights of backing vehicles when you are near a driveway, crossing between parked cars or in a parking lot.
  4. Wear bright colour or reflective clothing especially at night or darker days. Use a flashlight if you walk at night.
  5. Wear suitable footwear to increase your balance.
  6. Try to find a safe route, familiarize yourself and use these routes whenever you can. This way, you will already know the obstacles on the path.
  7. Use walking canes or other aids if you need.
  8. Wait until the drivers see you and stop before attempting to cross.
  9. Be extra careful at intersections and busy crossings.
  10. Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you are not confident. Alternatively, make yourself seen clearly by raising your hand.

Seniors Pedestrian Resources

Road Navigation Help for Elders

Defensive Walking: Pedestrian Safety for Adults (pdf)

NYC Department for Ageing Guidelines

Tips to Help Drivers Avoid Collisions with Pedestrians

Pedestrians are much more likely to get injured or die in a collision with a car than drivers or passengers. However, drivers are likely to have the most of the liability and fault in case of accidents involving other road users. For example, you don’t need to be sober to be walking on streets, but you can go to jail when you cause an accident while drunk driving.

Therefore, drivers must recognize that they can cause deaths and serious injuries if they don’t watch out for other road users. One serious problem for drivers is that quite a few people think they have automatic right of way at pedestrian crossovers and don’t need to check before walking onto the road. That is why drivers must be extra vigilant at such points. Here are a few tips to help drivers negotiate the roads safely.

  1. Drivers should be extra careful when they are approaching crosswalks including unmarked ones. They should slow down and be ready to stop. They should refrain from attempting to take over vehicles that stopped for pedestrians. They should be patient with elderly people and parents.
  2. Motorists must always follow speed limits, particularly in neighborhood areas and school zones. As the speed increases the chances of stopping in time decreases and causing a fatal injury increases.
  3. They should be ready to yield to pedestrians and cyclists including when turning left on green lights.
  4. Drivers should avoid distractions, texting, talking on the phone, eating or drinking while driving no matter how slow they travel.
  5. Drivers should be extra careful when the weather is bad. The visibility would be poor and stopping times would be increased. Furthermore, people may rush onto the road ignoring safety rules when it is raining heavily.
  6. Pay attention at parking lots especially at supermarkets. Parking lots are high-risk areas for reversing accidents. They may be busy with many people who either don’t know the rules (like children) or ignore them.
  7. They should never drink alcohol and drive.
  8. Motorists should watch out for animals. It is difficult to see a cat running between parked cars. They can easily cause an accident with other people when they are trying to avoid an animal collision.
  9. They should never signal pedestrians to pass or hurry up. They should stop and wait for them to complete their passage. Each party must check their own safety independently and take actions accordingly.
  10. Motorists should always be aware of their surroundings when they are driving and stopped. For example, opening doors carelessly can cause accidents with cyclists.

Driver Resources to Avoid Crashes with Pedestrians

Share the Road: Tips for Drivers, Cyclists, and Pedestrians

Safety on the Open Road: Defensive Driving

Everyone is a Pedestrian: Tips for Everyone

Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Instructions

Safe and Responsible Driving

Safety Tips for Cyclists

Another group of people who are venerable on the roads are cyclists. Watching out for cyclists and bikers is important part of driving. However, it is much more important for cyclists to watch out for themselves. According to NHTSA data, nearly 800 cyclists are killed in collisions with motor vehicles and 50,000 of them injured every year. Here are some tips to reduce these numbers;

  1. Don’t wear headphones when you need to listen to dangers around you instead. It is a common scene to see a cyclist with earphones in both ears. This would kill your chances of hearing any warnings, sirens and taking cover in time.
  2. Cyclists are responsible for obeying all the traffic rules and regulations as well. It is not okay to carry on a red light or ride on pavements for pedestrians.
  3. You should ride with the traffic, slowing down when it is slowing and stopping when it is. Trying to outrun the flow of traffic could result in unexpected collisions.
  4. Always wear a helmet as they reduce head, neck and brain injuries and damages.
  5. Learn the proper hand signals and use them all the time.
  6. Avoid Car doors. Riders should always ride a door width away from parked cars to avoid getting hit by an opening door.
  7. Never drink and ride. It is no different than drunk driving.
  8. Avoid getting into the blind spots and try to stay visible to drivers. For example, don’t get in the way of a car that is going to turn right by staying further than its side-view mirror on the right.
  9. Learn defensive cycling and never assume that drivers see you all the time.
  10. Make sure you are visible at all times by wearing bright color clothing and using lights and reflectors.

Resources for Cycling Safely

How Not to Get Hit by Cars

THINK safety tips for drivers and cyclists

Cycling and Traffic Signals and Skills

Safety Tips for Bicyclists and Motorists

Bike Smart: Biking Rules and Laws

Conclusion

Statistical figures make it clear that far too many people die or get injured because of avoidable traffic accidents. Everyone must do their bit to help reduce these numbers. If a driver makes a mistake someone else may suffer from it. However, if a pedestrian makes it a mistake he/she is the one who suffers from it in most cases. Watch out for your own sake.

Safety Advice and Resources for Pedestrians
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