Americans are increasingly including walking as part of their regular exercise program, and pedestrian activity naturally increases during the warmer months. More than 145 million adults in the U.S. walk for exercise, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
With all those extra feet out and about, it’s important for both walkers and drivers to keep safety in mind. According to statistics collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), walking is riskier in the evening and at night. Seniors and children are also more likely to be involved in pedestrian accidents. To keep everyone safe, the NHTSA offers the following reminders:
- Walk on a sidewalk or path when one is available. If no sidewalk or path is available, walk on the shoulder, facing traffic.
- Stay alert; don’t be distracted by electronic devices, including smart phones, MP3 players and other devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road.
- Be cautious night and day when sharing the road with vehicles. Never assume a driver sees you (he or she could be distracted, under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, or just not see you). Make eye contact with drivers as they approach.
- Be predictable. Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections when possible. This is where drivers expect pedestrians.
- If a crosswalk or intersection is not 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.
- Be visible. Wear bright clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flash light at night.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking; they impair your judgment and coordination.
Look for pedestrians everywhere. Pedestrians may not be walking where they should be or may be hard to see—especially in poorly lit conditions, including dusk, dawn, night and poor weather.
- Always stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk or where pedestrian crosswalk signs are posted.
- Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. They may be stopped to allow pedestrians to cross the street.
- Slow down and look for pedestrians. Be prepared to stop when turning or otherwise entering a crosswalk.
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
- Follow the speed limit; slow down around pedestrians.
- Stay focused and slow down where children may be present, like in school zones and neighborhoods.
With everyone doing their part, walking can be a safe, healthy and practical activity.
For more information:
Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Tips from the U.S. Department of Transportation
Everyone is a Pedestrian guide from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration