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Avoiding Accidents as a Pedestrian: Tips and Tricks

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Posted on September 8, 2023

Walking to a destination within your community is a health-conscious and eco-friendly choice. It’s also a great way to increase energy, circulation, and overall fitness without the need for special training or a gym membership. But when a fast-moving metal vehicle weighing an average of 4,000 pounds collides with an unprotected pedestrian, the results can be catastrophic for the pedestrian.

In most states, the law requires drivers to take great care in all driving situations to avoid hitting a pedestrian, even if that pedestrian isn’t in a crosswalk or fails to follow traffic laws. Despite this, 8,984 pedestrians died in traffic accidents in 2021, and around 130,000 more sustained injuries. While negligent drivers are often at fault for pedestrian injuries, pedestrians can take steps to minimize their risks by following some simple safety tips for both urban and rural walking.

Pedestrian Safety Tips for Urban Areas

Unprotected pedestrians face the risk of injuries in any location with public access, but the risks are significantly greater in urban areas. 83.8% of reported pedestrian accidents in 2121 occurred in urban settings. When walking in the city or high-traffic areas, following these tips can minimize the risks:

  • Obey traffic signals and signs
  • Use sidewalks wherever they are available
  • When there’s no sidewalk available, walk facing oncoming traffic as far away from traffic as possible
  • Cross the street at marked crosswalks whenever possible. If there is no crosswalk, cross the streets at intersections
  • Use walk/don’t walk signal buttons wherever they’re available at crosswalks
  • If there is no crosswalk or intersection where you need to cross, choose a well-lit area and wait for a significant gap in traffic before crossing. Remain alert and vigilant while you cross
  • Be watchful of cars exiting or entering driveways and parking lots
  • Hold the hands of small children at all times while crossing the street or in high-traffic areas, even while walking on sidewalks
  • Avoid distractions such as cellphones and music, and don’t use noise-canceling headphones while walking so you remain alert to traffic sounds
  • Remain visible at all times by wearing bright clothing during the daytime and reflective clothing at night

Walking within urban communities saves energy costs and improves fitness, but high-traffic areas pose significant threats to pedestrians. Driver speeding, intoxication, and distraction all contribute to pedestrian accidents in urban areas.

Tips for Pedestrians on Rural Roads

Around 15.43% of pedestrian accidents occur in rural areas and 76.81% occur along straight roadways compared to 22.82% of pedestrian collisions at intersections. Rural roadways don’t usually offer sidewalks for pedestrians. When walking in a rural area, always walk facing oncoming traffic so you can more easily see and be seen by drivers. Stay as far away from traffic lanes as possible. The following tips help pedestrians to stay safe when walking in rural regions:

  • Wear bright clothing to remain clearly visible during daylight hours
  • Avoid walking at night, but if you must walk at night, carry a flashlight and wear reflective clothing, or reflective strips
  • Remain on the shoulder of the road and choose pedestrian pathways wherever they are available
  • Avoid distractions such as looking at your cell phone and don’t wear noise-cancelling headphones or earbuds
  • Watch for hidden intersections and vehicles leaving or entering driveways and unmarked roads
  • When walking with others, walk in single file along the shoulder of the road
  • When walking a dog, keep the dog on a short leash on rural roadways
  • When large commercial trucks or RVs pass by, step as far away on the shoulder of the road as possible to avoid the strong suction 

Interstate highways are not open to pedestrians in rural or urban areas. When walking on any roadway, avoid using alcohol or drugs that could impair your judgment, coordination, and motor skills. As in urban areas, driver distraction, speeding, and intoxication are the main causes of pedestrian accidents. If you have been involved in an accident, contact a San Diego car accident lawyer to discuss your case.