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Pedestrian Safety Tips to Protect Yourself on the Street

Walking is a common mode of transportation, particularly in dense cities where you can access anything you might need easily on foot. However, walking does have its fair share of risks in our car-dominated society. Every year, pedestrian accidents lead to many injuries and fatalities. To protect yourself from the risk of avoidable accidents, it’s essential to be aware of basic pedestrian safety rules. In this article, we discuss steps you can take to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from harm when walking the streets. 

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What is Pedestrian Safety & Why is it Important?

Pedestrian safety isn’t just a set of rules; it’s a mindset that should guide your actions whenever you’re near roadways. Understanding pedestrian safety means recognizing that all road users must work together to make the streets safer for everyone, from drivers to bicyclists and walkers. When drivers and pedestrians look out for one another, they reduce the risk of collisions, injuries, and property damage. 

Always Follow Pedestrian Laws & Regulations

Following traffic laws is not only legally required but also beneficial for a pedestrian’s safety. By obeying the rules of the road, you make your actions more predictable to drivers and reduce the risks of getting struck by a car. You should always take care to:

  • Use Crosswalks: Cross streets only at designated intersections and crosswalks.
  • Obey Traffic Signals: Follow traffic signals and signs as intended. 
  • Avoid Jaywalking: Jaywalking, or crossing the street outside of designated areas, is both illegal and dangerous.

What Are the Best Ways to Cross a Busy Street?

Crossing the street may seem like a routine task, but it’s where many accidents occur. By observing the following safety tips, you significantly reduce your chances of being hit by a car. 

  • Look Both Ways Before Crossing the Street: This timeless advice remains as crucial as ever. Always look left, right, and left again before stepping off the curb.
  • Make Eye Contact: Whenever possible, establish eye contact with drivers to confirm they’ve seen you and are aware of your intention to cross.
  • Use Crosswalks: Whenever available, use marked crosswalks and follow pedestrian signals.

Why is Visibility Crucial for Pedestrians?

When it comes to pedestrian safety, being visible to drivers is paramount. Whether you’re walking during the day, in low-light conditions, or at night, enhancing your visibility can significantly reduce the risk of accidents.

Visibility plays a pivotal role in preventing accidents for several reasons:

  • Early Detection: When drivers can see pedestrians from a distance, they have more time to react to your presence, reducing the likelihood of collisions.
  • Reducing Surprise Factor: Being visible helps eliminate the “surprise factor” for drivers. It means they are less likely to encounter unexpected obstacles, especially in areas with heavy traffic.
  • Improved Reaction Time: When drivers spot pedestrians early, they can slow down, brake, or change lanes safely, ensuring a smoother interaction between pedestrians and vehicles.

Stay Alert When Walking 

In our fast-paced world, it’s tempting to stay connected to what’s happening online at all times. However, digital distractions can take your attention away from potential hazards in your path. Believe it or not, distracted walking can be as risky as distracted driving. When you stay focused on your surroundings, you reduce your chances of walking in front of a speeding car or crossing against a traffic signal. 

Protect yourself by paying attention to what’s going on around you. Try to limit the amount of time you spend looking at your phone or another electronic device. If you’re using headphones to listen to music or make a phone call, leave one earpiece out so you can hear car horns or emergency vehicle sirens. 

Safety Tips for Walking at Night 

Walking at night requires extra caution, since limited visibility can make it more likely that a driver won’t be able to see you. When walking at dusk or late night, do your best to stick to areas with good lighting. Doing so not only makes you more visible to motorists but can also reduce your chances of being a victim of theft or other petty crime. You should carry a flashlight or use a flashlight app on your phone if the area around you is poorly lit.

You should always wear bright or reflective clothing when out at night. Black, gray, or other dark clothing makes it much harder for drivers to see you, especially if you’re crossing the street in front of their vehicle. Making yourself more visible can literally save your life.

Teaching Children About Pedestrian Safety 

Young children may not understand how dangerous traffic can be. To keep your child safe, it’s important to explain how to safely use sidewalks and cross the street without putting oneself at risk. By teaching your child about potential hazards early, you’re doing your part to protect them from preventable accidents. You can use the following steps:

  • Education: Teach your child about basic traffic safety and explain how to cross a road safely.
  • Practice: Practice crossing the street with your child. Show them how crossing signals work, where nearby crosswalks are around your house, and ensure that they know to look both ways before stepping off the curb. 
  • Supervision: Kids should always be supervised when they’re on or around a road. Even if your kid is just playing in the neighborhood, keep an eye on them and stay aware of nearby trucks, cars, and even bicycles.

What Should You Do After a Pedestrian Accident?

If you or a loved one is struck by a car, knowing how to respond can be critical. The first thing you need to do is call 911 and seek medical attention for yourself or the hurt pedestrian. Even if you don’t feel like you’ve been seriously hurt, you or the victim need to be checked out by medical professionals as soon as possible. Adrenaline can mask some of the early symptoms of a moderate or severe injury, potentially putting the victim’s life at risk. 

Once you’ve called for assistance, local authorities and first responders should arrive at the scene. Be sure to request a copy of the incident report filed by the responding law enforcement agency. This can be useful legal evidence if you decide to pursue a lawsuit in the future. You should also take down the contact information of any witnesses. Once you’ve recovered from the collision, contact a pedestrian accident lawyer in Portland to discuss your legal options. You may be able to receive compensation for your out-of-pocket expenses, medical bills, and more.

Prioritize Your Safety When Going for a Walk

Pedestrian safety should be a focus of everyone using the road. However, the only person you can count on to truly prioritize your own safety is you. Whether you’re walking to work, school, or simply enjoying a leisurely stroll, remember that your safety should always be a top priority. Pay attention to your surroundings, limit distraction, cross the street at designated crosswalks, and always err on the side of caution if you observe a driver behaving erratically. 

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