by Police Chief Dwight Henninger
With the start of school and the arrival of fall with its shorter daylight, we should all be reminded of the need to be aware of pedestrian safety. On average, a pedestrian was killed every two hours and injured every seven minutes in traffic crashes in the U.S., according to a 2014 study by the U.S. Department of Transportation. In addition, 14 percent of all traffic fatalities and an estimated 3 percent of those injured in traffic crashes were pedestrians.
The National Highway Safety Administration recommends the following safety practices for pedestrians:
- Be predictable as a pedestrian. Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals.
- Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available.
- If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
- Keep alert at all times; don’t be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road.
- If you’re riding a bike, it is always safer with a helmet.
- Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections whenever possible. This is where drivers expect pedestrians. Look for cars in all directions – including those turning left or right.
- If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a gap in traffic that allows you enough time to cross safely, and continue to watch for traffic as you cross.
- Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach you to make sure you are seen.
- Be visible at all times. Wear bright 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 judgment too.
As a driver:
- Look out for pedestrians everywhere, at all times. Safety is a shared responsibility.
- Use extra caution when driving in hard-to-see conditions, such as nighttime, in bad weather or when vehicles are parked on the Frontage Road. We see this during overflow days for hiking and skiing.
- Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or otherwise entering a crosswalk.
- Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and stop well back from the crosswalk to give other vehicles an opportunity to see the crossing pedestrians so they can stop too.
- Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. There may be people crossing that you can’t see.
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
- Follow the speed limit, especially around people on the street.
- Follow slower speed limits in school zones and in neighborhoods where there are children present.
We can all do our part to make walking on our roadways safer, please remember these tips when driving around pedestrians, a school zone or on a powder day!