Whether walking to the store or taking a jog around your neighborhood, you’re bound to be a pedestrian on the street at some point. Plus, going it on foot is a good form of transportation and a great way to get some exercise. As a driver, you’re also guaranteed to come across pedestrians while you’re behind the wheel.
To help protect pedestrians and prevent tragic accidents, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers some safety tips for both pedestrians and drivers to keep in mind when out and about on the road:
- Walk on a sidewalk or path when one is available. If one isn’t available, walk facing traffic and as far from cars as possible.
- Never assume drivers see you; they could be distracted or impaired. It’s best to make eye contact with drivers to make sure you’re seen.
- Stay alert and aware of your surroundings. Don’t be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road.
- Always cross streets at marked crosswalks or signalized intersections whenever possible; this is where drivers expect pedestrians.
- If a marked crosswalk or intersection isn’t available, locate a well-lit area, wait for a gap in traffic that allows you enough time to cross safely, and continue to watch for traffic as you cross.
- Make yourself visible by wearing bright-colored clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking; they impair your abilities and your judgment.
- Look for pedestrians everywhere. They may be walking in unexpected areas or be hard to see, especially at night, in poorly lit areas or during bad weather.
- Follow pedestrian safety laws in your state or local area. Always stop or yield for pedestrians in the crosswalk.
- Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. They might be stopped to allow pedestrians to cross the street.
- Stay alert where children may be present, like in school zones and neighborhoods.
- Be extra cautious when backing up—pedestrians can move into your path.
- Slow down and carefully adhere to posted speed limits, particularly in urban and pedestrian-heavy areas. Speed is one of the most important factors in pedestrian crash survivability.
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
Thousands of pedestrians die as the result of traffic accidents every year in the U.S. By staying alert while walking and sharing the road with pedestrians while driving, you can avoid and help prevent such tragedy.